School district tightens air quality restrictions for recess, practices

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, December 15, 2010:

The school district recently tightened air quality guidelines that govern when students are allowed outside for school-related activities.

Recess and practices should be moved inside or canceled when particulate matter levels are 176 micrograms per cubic meter or higher, levels deemed unhealthy by the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

“Clearly we want kids to be physically active and we want them to be able to get exertion with good air quality,” said superintendent Pete Lewis.

The borough scales air quality into six levels, with level one being “good,” level six being “hazardous” and level three being “unhealthy.” The school district shifted its ranges about 20 micrograms lower in November to match the borough.

When particulate levels are between 81 and 175 micrograms per cubic meter for one hour — unhealthy for sensitive groups — recess should be limited and athletic coaches should give athletes extra recovery and keep extra water and cell phones handy. Between 176 and 300 micrograms — unhealthy for everyone — recess and all practices should move inside. Competitions can be held outside with extra precautions. Above 301 micrograms — very unhealthy for everyone — all outdoor activity, practices and games should be canceled.

High particulate levels usually coincide with cold temperatures.