- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Chimney smoke and temperature inversion are keeping Fairbanks at an ‘F’ grade for air quality this year.

Annual numbers released by the American Lung Association have Fairbanks ranked the ninth worst city in the country for unhealthy days, characterized by the amount of pollutants present in the air, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (https://bit.ly/1FCrule).

This is an improvement from last year’s seventh place standing. The top six cities this year were all in California and had Fresno and Madera counties sharing the top spot.

“A lot of cities did worse, especially in the West and the Southwest,” said the American Lung Association’s Assistant Vice President, Janice Nolen.

Experts blame Alaska’s pollution on wood-burning fire places in Fairbanks and North Pole. Also a factor is temperature inversion, which is a weather phenomenon that keeps cold air and pollutants trapped below warm air in Alaska and other high-altitude areas.

The lung association’s data includes outliers normally excluded in calculations released by the Environmental Protection Agency. Unhealthy days are judged by the amount of pollutants that get into people’s lungs and bloodstreams.

“An ‘F’ means that you have way too many days that are unhealthy,” Nolen said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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