Air quality in the Mat-Su Borough has been in the news recently. There have been rumors about people taking away wood stoves and threatened fines for air pollution.
The Butte does have a problem with blowing silt and there is obviously nothing that can be done about that. These are larger particles which, although still a problem for susceptible individuals does not cause as much as a health risk as the smaller particles caused by smoke.
There are only two air quality monitors in the borough, one in Palmer and one in the Butte. They both measure the larger silt particles which are 10 micrometers in diameter and called PM10 for particulate matter 10 micometers or smaller in diameter. They also both measure the smaller PM2.5 particles which are obviously 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller.
You can read more about it on the Mat-Su Borough website here: Mat-Su Borough Air Quality
EPA has certain air standards for a lot of different types of air pollution, the PM10 and PM2.5 are only two of those. The Butte monitoring station which is just off of Mckechnie Loop Road recorded a few days in January and February of 2017 where the PM2.5 levels were over EPA standards. Most of the PM2.5 particulates were probably caused by wood burning.
After stifling my initial anti-government reactions about taking away my barrel stove I started to think more about this. I owe this to my friend and fellow Realtor Larry Ficek for encouraging me to read a book called Thinking Fast and Slow I started to have more and more questions about this. Every piece of information seemed to raise more questions. I have since found answers to some of the questions, partial answers to some of the questions, and some questions still remain without answers.
What happens if we do nothing? Apparently we are already past this point since the State of Alaska voluntarily installed the monitor in the Butte and that monitor has recorded air in violation of EPA standards. So we have already done something and that is we have reported air pollution in this location. If the air pollution gets much worse we will have reached non-attainment status. At that point the EPA requires the state to make a plan to clean the air.