Fairbanks Ranks as Most-Polluted City in the Nation

Numerous Alaskans still experience some of the worst air quality in the nation

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2018 report shows that Alaska has some of the worst air quality in the nation. Many Alaskans are living in areas with unhealthy air with wood-burning stoves and wildfire smoke contributing to poor air quality. These rankings demonstrate a need to work together on solutions to improve the air Alaskans breathe.

“Far too many Alaskans are living in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, which puts our public health at risk for diseases such as lung cancer and asthma,” said Marge Stoneking, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Alaska. “This report shows that we can, and should do more to improve the air quality in our communities.”

Data for the 2018 State of the Air report come from air quality monitoring data collected in 2014 – 2016, the most recent years of quality assured data available.

Many Alaskans live in areas with unhealthy air at some point during the year. Alaska’s second-largest city, Fairbanks, is now the number one most polluted city for year-round particle pollution and ranks as the number four most polluted city in short-term particle pollution. This change in ranking results from additional data from a monitor in the North Star region of the Borough. In the 2017 State of the Air Report, Fairbanks ranked at #17. Wood-burning stoves in homes continues to be a major source of pollution in the area.

Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, which is not an issue in Alaska currently, and particle pollution, also called soot. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Particle pollution is dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. 

For more information about Alaska’s local air quality data and grades for each county and metropolitan area, visit www.stateoftheair.org. For media interested in speaking with an expert, please contact Holly Harvey at the American Lung Association at (206) 512-3292 or [email protected].

For more information, contact:

Holly Harvey
(206) 512-3292
[email protected]

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