The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is looking to establish a lease agreement with the City of Bethel to set up an air quality monitoring system.The state funded project is part of an effort to collect better data on what’s in our air.
Behind Alaska Commercial Company, off Fourth Avenue, is the proposed site for the air quality monitoring system. Bethel City Council member Leif Albertson said that this area will make for a great location.
“There’s sort of just an empty space here,” said Albertson. “It’s got some brush on it right now, and what will be here is a trailer with a small shed on it that will have the air monitoring equipment in it.”
It's also near a gravel road. The idea was introduced at Tuesday night's City Council meeting and would be part of a lease agreement that allows the State Department of Environmental Conservation to install the system.
Council member Albertson says that it’s important for the community of Bethel to get good air quality data.
“The plan right now is to be able to measure particulate matter in two different sizes: PM 2.5 and PM 10,” said Albertson. “PM 2.5 is the small stuff, and that is generally what a lot of health concern is around because the particles are so small they can really get very deep into your lungs and even get into your bloodstream.”
Albertson hopes that better monitoring will help inform policymakers in improving air quality for residents, especially those with chronic breathing conditions.
“There is sort of an assumption that the air is bad here. We have a lot of really bad road dust problems, but we don’t really have any hard data to back that up,” said Albertson.
At the next City Council meeting, on May 23, Albertson says that the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposed location for the air monitoring station when a motion to adopt the lease comes up on the agenda.