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Monday, February 18, 2013

North Pole Alaska pollution out of control

(Shutterstock image)

I was reading a story in the newspaper this morning about pollution in North Pole and Fairbanks, Alaska. The pollution there was so bad from wood burning stoves that they could hardly see across the street.

One woman talked about how bad the smoke is, even inside her home. Her 2 1/2 year old daughter was struggling to breathe, was using two inhalers, and her stomach was rapidly moving in and out as her mom was taking her to the emergency room. If a child is that bad, that's a 911 call. I've seen that many times in my own children, and they can go from bad to worse very quickly.

What is wrong with that area of Alaska?! I picture a clear snow covered area with beautiful pine trees. Instead, the air is so bad that it is DOUBLE what it is in Beijing China. The problem is that they are burning wood and coal, and it's affecting the health of people that live there. I thought LA had the worse air in the nation, but they exceed federal standards 13 days of the year. Fairbanks exceeded federal standards 48 days of the year.

Apparently, natural gas is too expensive for them to be able to heat their homes. They are only 500 miles from the biggest gas fields in the world, but there isn't a way to move the gas to their area. One resident of the North Pole said that it was so expensive to heat his home, that it costs him twice as much to heat his home as what he pays for his mortgage.

In an area where it's can be 50 degrees below zero, it's beyond cold and they need to heat their homes. But isn't there a better option than what they are doing now? I'm not a tree hugging/granola eating environmentalist. But even I can see what they are doing is affecting the health of everyone in that town. The stories in the article talk about people suffering irregular heartbeats, pleuritis (inflammation of the lining of the lungs), eyes that hurt and sore throats.

When is it enough? One resident moved to another state because the pollution was so bad.

Think about where you live. Are you doing anything that is polluting the air? Is there anything you can do to help? Remember that what goes out your chimney goes into people's lungs.

I don't know what the answer is in their area, but they will face problems with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if they don't make changes. The EPA isn't the bad guy, this is a Public Health issue and they are trying to protect the people of America. We have a right to breathe clean air.

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