Connection to Fairbanks Air Pollution and Increase in Hospital Visits

December 8th, 2014

A recent state health study shows that when tiny particle pollution rises in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, a higher number of people are hospitalized. According to, the Alaska Department of Health study of 5,178 hospital visits showed a 6 percent increase of a risk for a hospital visit for respiratory problems for people under the age of 65. Also a 6 to 7 percent added risk of a hospital visit for stroke-related issues for people both under and over 65. The report from the study was released on Monday, August 30th. It reviewed Fairbanks Memorial Hospital admissions between 2003 and 2008 and also the emergency room visits from 2008.

The study compared the information with Fairbanks pollution data and discovered that the rate of hospital visits is indeed related to the higher levels of particulates. The particulates typically originate from wood-burning stoves and also outdoor wood-boilers. Summer forest fires can also play a part in the large numbers of particulates in the air.

on a clear day
Creative Commons License photo credit: Liz (

The study suggests that people should stay alert to the local alerts and what advice is given for people in any health risk to go outside or to be active. These alerts could be quite useful for many people.

The Fairbanks borough has also been ordered by the federal government to improve and clean their current particulate problem. The majority of the particulates happen during the winter, but wildfires can create particulates in the summer months. The particulates occur in the city of Fairbanks, North Pole, Goldstream Valley and Chena Ridge. Cars, home heating oil, waste oil and coal all play a part in creating these particulates.


Air Pollution an Important Topic in California

October 5th, 2014

A statewide survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California shows that air pollution is the top environmental issue for California today. According to, air pollution has been a topic discussed since 2000. But according to the survey, it’s importance declined by 33 percent in the year 2000.

View down North Fork Big Pine Creek
Creative Commons License photo credit: MiguelVieira

Also concerning Californians is water supply, energy, oil drilling and water pollution. Just like last year, 25 percent of Californians think air pollution in their area is a “big problem.” In Los Angeles, Inland Empire and Central Valley residents think it is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” health threat. Also concerning was the survey result overall finding that 43 percent of Californians say they or an immediate family member has asthma or another respiratory problem.

Most (70 percent) are interested in seeing better air pollution standards on new cars. The percentages start to separate when politics get involved though – as 86 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Independents and 45 percent of Republicans want to see the changes made to pollution standards on cars.

This survey was done from 2,502 adults living in California in July 6th through 20th. The survey was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Air pollution is an important topic, and making changes to new cars certainly could make some changes to this. What are your thoughts? Do you feel that changing new cars is the top way to improve air pollution? What other ways could air pollution be improved? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


EPA Now Reviewing Air Pollution for 28 Industries For Next 8 Years

August 2nd, 2014

Environmentalists have asked and challenged the EPA and they have responded. According to The New York Times, the EPA will now review the air pollution for 28 industries over the next 8 years.

The settlement was filed on July 6th in federal district court in Oakland, California. If accepted, the EPA would then have court deadlines to review the maximum achievable control technology standards. These MACT standards put limits on hazards in air pollution for industries. As the EPA reviews, they could decide to make the restrictions more difficult or have them remain the same for these industries.

The EPA is also required to analyze the impact on public health. Some of the sectors that may be reviewed if the settlement is accepted are pesticide manufacturing, pharmaceuticals production, cement manufacturing and shipbuilding. The industry with the longest review period is cement, which is due by 2017 with a final rule for the next year.

Environmentalists are pleased the EPA is doing this review. By analyzing the standards for each industry and making changes where they are needed, it helps to keep the public safe.

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New York State Air Quality Improving for 2012 Overall

May 30th, 2014

According to the, there are more than 3.2 million New Yorkers living in counties with poor air quality, but overall air quality has improved for New York State. The State of the Air 2012 report released by the American Lung association states that air quality for New York State has improved.

Six of 34 of New York’s counties that have air quality monitoring systems in place got failing grades. This is an improvement from 2011, when 16 counties received a failing grade. While there is improvement, the State of the Air and the American Lung Association stated there are too many in New York state who breathe air that is not of good quality.

The Clean Air Act, a federal act was first approved in 1970 and then amended in 1990. Jeff Seyler, president of the American Lung Association in the Northeast stated that it needs to be enforced and to have stricter standards for New York State.

The counties were graded on several levels, from Ozone, Year-Round Particle Pollution and Short-Term Particle Pollution Levels.

Hudson Valley, Ulster and Duchess counties each improved by one letter grade for their ozone levels. Both Westchester and Putnam counties received and F for their ozone levels. Westchester County was the dirtiest county for ozone and the third most dirty in the state according to the State of the Air. Erie, Monroe and Wayne counties improved by two letter grades.

New York State’s Department of Environment Conservation stated on Wednesday April 25th they would partner with community groups to do regular air-quality monitoring. The Community Air Screen Program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency for $170,000. Local community groups and individual may take air quality samples in their neighborhoods to check air quality.

While some counties in New York need to improve, it is exciting to see that others have made improvements from last year’s results. The new initiative may encourage other counties and areas to improve their air quality and to reduce air pollution.

New Study Suggests Possible Link to Risk of Heart Attack and Air Pollution

March 27th, 2014

Air quality may be an important link to reducing heart attacks according to a recent study., states the study was published in The Lancet and ranks air pollution as a possible contributor just as physical exertion, anger and alcohol use are considered triggers. It states that air pollution may be linked to heart attacks for the general population.

The fine particles in the air created by both traffic and power plants are considered to trigger the same number of heart attacks as negative emotions, shoveling snow or other physical exertion and alcohol. While on an individual level, the risk of air pollution triggering a heart attack is low – when these smaller risks are considered for a larger group of people – they could be considered a trigger.

Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, associate professor of environmental epigenetics in the department of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston stated that while the analysis was not difficult, no one had ever done it before. But to compare air pollution to other risk factors was, “brilliant” as air pollution is a concern in communities.

This research is very interesting and echoes other research studies we’ve discovered that discuss the potential health risks for air pollution. Clearly air pollution is not good for people’s health.

Take the time to understand the air quality in your community. Ask how you can be involved and help improve your air quality. While air quality may seem like an overwhelming problem, if you get involved and others do too – you have the ability to make a difference. Others will be inspired by your changes and they may make healthy changes too.

Consider carpooling to work or using public transportation a few days a week for your commute. In most communities this is an easy and convenient choice. Carpooling can have its benefits as you get to know your neighbors and coworkers. You may have the opportunity to network or make new friends.

Plants improve our air quality. Taking the time to grow plants, flowers and trees will help air quality. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own – you can help grow by volunteering at a community garden or growing plants on your windowsill or deck. Every plant you nurture and grow has the ability to help air quality. Best of all you can enjoy fresh veggies, fruits, flowers and the beauty of nature.