FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Fairbanks-area officials are considering launching a program to test if devices designed to scrub wood smoke of toxic particles could help reduce air pollution in the city.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly is scheduled to decide this week if it will appropriate about $458,000 for the project, testing if domestic chimney smoke scrubbers could be effectively implemented, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

To comply with the federal Clean Air Act, the borough has until December 2019 to bring down levels of a toxic particulate found largely in wood smoke. It's required to reduce the particulates by 80 percent in North Pole, where concentrations of episodic PM2.5 pollution is reported to be the highest in the country, said Nick Czarnecki, the borough's air quality manager.

When the air is stagnant during winters in the Fairbanks area, chimney smoke lingers at ground level. If the assembly approves the program, the borough expects to have testing results start flowing in by the end of the smoke pollution season.

"The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has never quantified benefits from after-market control devices on wood stoves," Czarnecki told the assembly last week. "We are basically blazing new ground here in the United States."

Through the program, the devices that connect to chimneys would be tested on a pellet stove and two types of wood stoves — one with a catalytic converter and one without, Czarnecki said. T

esting and the program will stop if the devices fail to show significant reductions on pellet stove, which is expected to produce more reliable results, he said.

The borough will need a variety of methods to reduce pollution.

"Everything is going to play an important role," Czarnecki said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com