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Mayor: Air unhealthy after residents ignore burn bans

January 19, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Low compliance with restrictions on burning wood and coal has been preventing the Fairbanks North Star Borough from hitting federal air standards, Mayor Karl Kassel said.

Kassel said on Wednesday he has planned a series of town hall meetings to educate residents on the community’s air, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

The borough has called for 16 burn bans this winter. Kassel said air has improved, but the level of pollution is still far above federal standards aimed at protecting human health.

The borough has issued more than 100 warning letters to residents suspected of flouting burning restrictions, Kassel said.

“There are a lot of folks that have been ignoring this situation,” Kassel said. “People have been ignoring it because they have busy lives. I get that. But it’s time that folks really do need to understand what is going on and help us take some corrective action.”

Decades of scientific research has revealed a connection between the particular pollution the borough faces and various heart and lung illnesses. The pollution has come from a fine particulate that is a byproduct of wood smoke, among other sources.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put the borough on notice to reduce the levels of the particulate.

The first town hall meeting is planned for Jan. 30 at the North Pole Branch Library.

“The air quality numbers are the highest in North Pole,” Kassel said, “so we wanted to start out there.”

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

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