More sunlight equals cleaner Fairbanks air

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, January 19, 2010:

Increasing sunlight has helped improve particulate pollution in Fairbanks, according to borough air quality specialist Jim Conner.

The average particulate pollution level in Fairbanks on Monday was 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, making the air unhealthy for sensitive groups, Conner said.

Earlier this month, daily averages were reaching nearly 100 micrograms of pollution, which made the air unhealthy for everyone.

What changed?

Conner said weather fronts have been more active and there’s more sunlight. Both help diffuse temperature inversions, when a mass of warm air sits on top of cold air, trapping fine particulate pollution known as PM 2.5, which can embed in the lungs and make people sick.

“When the sun comes up, usually the concentrations (of PM 2.5) drop dramatically,” Conner said. “When the sun goes down, the numbers will go up.”

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