FAIRBANKS – A telephone survey aims to find out how residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough go about heating their homes.
Borough officials want to use the information to help develop a pollution control plan for PM 2.5, tiny particulates known to embed in the lungs and cause health problems. Wood smoke is believed to be the biggest contributor to the PM 2.5 problem.
Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said he will to introduce a pollution control plan in the coming months.
“At this point, what we are trying to do is develop voluntary programs and come up with financial incentives to get people to upgrade their stoves,” borough air quality director Glenn Miller said.
The survey began Saturday. Anchorage-based Hays Research Group will be calling people during the next two weeks or until they have 300 responses, according to borough spokeswoman Sallie Stuvek.
The survey takes about 10 or 15 minutes to complete, Stuvek said.
Residents will be asked a series of questions about where they live, how they heat their homes and how much money they spend on home heating, according
Survey respondents also will be asked about their wood stove, if they have one. The borough wants to know how people get their firewood and if homeowners would replace an old stove with a cleaner-burning wood stove if government assistance were available.
Miller said this survey is the third one in as many years.
“It’s to get a better understanding of how people use their appliances,” he said. “It’ll help us focus our attention. It’s good to know what the public is doing.”
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is paying about $7,600 for the survey, Miller said.
The three-year average of PM 2.5 in Fairbanks and North Pole is 41 micrograms per cubic meter of air, according to state officials. The federal government has said the average must be brought down to 35.5 by 2014. A pollution control plan is due to the Environmental Protection Agency in three years.