New Fairbanks air quality study kicks off hoping to involve the community

FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) A group of scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks is looking for community engagement in a new study to get a better understanding of air pollution in Fairbanks.

Residents gathered at a meeting at UAF Community and Technical College to learn about a new air quality study in Fairbanks. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

Bill Simpson, a professor in the chemistry department at UAF, told us “It really stems out of community concerns that we’ve heard in past meetings, so we’re studying indoor air and outdoor air. Then we also have a social science aspect to it where we’re trying to understand community attitudes towards the problem, and a citizen science part where we are trying to involve the community and figuring out solutions."

Simpson says their study is different because it is not regulatory. “This is a project trying to understand indoor air where people are for most of their time, and that’s different than the regulatory question which is of course about outdoor air,” said Simpson.

The group kicked off the study with two community meetings this week -- one in North Pole at the North Pole Branch Library, and one at the UAF Community & Technical College in Fairbanks.

“People are concerned about 'what is the air quality inside my house? Do heating sources, a leaky oil stove in the basement or wood stove, do those contribute to particles in the house? Can I use filters to protect my family? Can I use a filtration system to bring down the particles in the house?' So those are concerns I have heard,” said Simpson.

“We’re going to have a big field study next winter where we’re going to be studying air quality inside a house and outside the house ,and then also in the vertical above it to understand the inversion,” said Simpson.

Simpson says residents can go to the project website to learn more.

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