Smoke in the Valley

Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2003

Wood burning and trash burning in the Mendenhall Valley need to be stopped. Too many residents live in close proximity to allow everyone that wants to burn to burn. It is well documented the carcinogenic nature of smoke: cigarette and the incidence of cancer in firemen. Also people with sinus, asthma, and allergy problems need to be considered. This has to be a concern when Valley residences are exposed to a strong tannic acid aroma year round.

The airflow dynamics in the Valley from causal observation are 90 percent of the time an inversion, regardless of what technically may be measured at the airport. Smoke from a chimney rarely travels ever upward, but mushrooms with the neighbors getting enveloped with smoke. The house where the smoke originated remains upwind of the smoke cloud. As is well known there are diverse microclimates throughout the Juneau area; variations in wind, temperature, sunshine and moisture. One monitoring location may not accurately indicate what is occurring in a particular neighborhood.

I don't know the reason, but smoke conditions get worse after dark. Drive around the Valley with your windows down or walk around several neighborhoods after dark and check for yourself. Without question in many cases the city's opacity standard as presented pictorially in their "Regs and Tips" bulletin is being violated.

Would we tolerate this smoke if it were caused by industry or cruise ships?

On the most pleasant days people choose to burn their rubbish etc. To enjoy the occasional nice weather by opening your windows or sitting outside in the sunshine becomes tainted by a landfill atmosphere. The present city ordinance is commonly violated. Possibly an alternative to open burning would be an open ditch to be covered where leaves, trees and garden rubbish could be burned. The location for this public burn area could be out the road past Eagle Beach or on the backside of Douglas Island. This would be away from resident housing and where prevailing winds carry the smoke away from populated areas. We have such beautiful pristine clean air, it is a shame we don't get to enjoy it around our own homes.

Marlin Bricker


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