Responsibility for dealing with particulate pollution starts

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Responsibility for dealing with particulate pollution starts

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:23 pm

Doing our part to clean the air: Responsibility for dealing with particulate pollution starts at home

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 12:00 am

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

In six days, Interior residents will go to the polls to determine, among other things, whether to reinstate the Fairbanks North Star Borough ban on local enforcement related to heating devices and fuels. However the issue is decided, advocates on both sides of borough Proposition 2 will agree on one thing: our area has an air quality problem in the winter, and it’s incumbent on each of us to do what we can to help contribute to solving it.

Fairbanks always has been a popular place for burning wood for home heat, but it’s no surprise that wood stoves have proliferated even more during the past 10 years. As heating oil costs have climbed in tandem with rising gas prices, wood and to a lesser extent coal have enjoyed a resurgence among those looking to keep their families warm more economically. But with every such decision, there are trade-offs. Wood smoke, especially from logs that are too wet or stoves burning inefficiently, is high in fine particulate emissions known as PM 2.5.

The increase in wood and coal burning, particularly among those who were unfamiliar with the process of heating their home that way, exacerbated the particulate pollution problem — and to some degree still does. The borough, which for the past four years has been restricted from enforcement activity related to home heating, has engaged in a variety of informational and voluntary programs aimed at making sure those burning wood do so as cleanly as possible.

One of the best pieces of advice on wood burning the borough has promoted is a simple mnemonic device: “Split, stack, store.” It describes the proper procedure by which firewood should be prepared: split into cordwood so moisture can escape, stacked so it can more easily be covered and kept out of the elements, and stored until its moisture content is below 20 percent. If you’re unsure of how damp your wood is, moisture gauges are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at stores where wood stoves are sold. The device easily pays for itself — burning dry wood means more heat output because less energy is expended on heating the moisture locked inside. It also means the wood will burn hotter and cleaner, helping to address the particulate pollution problem. And wood burning hotter and cleaner means less physical work for you — fewer trips to the woodpile and to the roof to brush out creosote buildup in the chimney. And as anyone who’s been up on the roof brushing out the chimney can tell you, it’s not something you’d rather be doing more often.

The borough’s stove replacement program continues — applications for credit in replacing a dirty-burning stove with a cleaner one are available at the air quality division on Peger Road or online at

Whether regulation of the air quality issue remains in the hands of the state or is transferred to local control, being conscientious about what we burn and how we burn it can go a long way toward the goal of clean air in our community.

source ... b2370.html
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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