Fairbanks is seeing some of the worst air quality ever

Published: Jul. 10, 2019 at 11:53 AM AKDT
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Winter's wood-burning stoves have not produced the likes of these fires in Fairbanks.

Recent and existing fires have really degraded the air quality in Alaska pretty much statewide.

High pressure is assisting in creating temperature inversions or air traps as cold air will not rise into warm air above it has been really obscuring our skies. Winds have been moving in from out of the south but at the same time have been taking a right hand or east hand turn just south of Turnagain Arm that has caused our air quality here in Anchorage to shift daily between good and moderate-quality air.

Good air on the AQI or Air Quality Index is between 0-50 and means air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk. An AQI of 51-100 means that air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants, there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

Asthma and allergy suffers could have difficulty while engaged in strenuous activity during moderate air quality. The valley currently has a moderate AQI while Fairbanks has a hazardous AQI of 400 (301-500) which means health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

At the moment it is hard to avoid going outside while fires continue to burn and disperse smoke into our atmosphere. Fog and rain can help scour out pollutants and improve our quality but then can bring this matter to the surface thus contaminating lakes and streams.

Our current weather pattern across most of Alaska is starting to favor wetter conditions that could slowly lead to improvement. As we experienced June being one of the driest months ever and the recent heat we have seen in July it just might be some time before our air quality greatly recovers as fires continue throughout much of Alaska.

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