Wood-burning blamed for poor air in Fairbanks

From The Associated Press, Wednesday, January 13, 2010:

On winter days when the air is still and Fairbanks area residents fire up their wood stoves and outdoor boilers, Alaska’s second largest city becomes entombed in a shroud of pollution.

The problem is due in part to wood stoves and outdoor boilers that belch out small particles, forcing residents to breathe some of the unhealthiest air in the nation. The borough’s air problem can become acute during a temperature inversion, when cold air near the ground is trapped by warmer air on top.

“It traps everything near the ground,” said Glenn Miller, transportation director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough who oversees air quality.

The state’s lack of affordable heat has forced residents to pay $5,000 to $10,000 to heat their homes, so many turned to the old standby – wood heat.

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