The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is conducting an air quality study in the Butte community during the winter 2020 season in order to determine if there is an alternative site for the Butte air quality monitor.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires a regulatory site to be in an area of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with the highest concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The Anchorage MSA includes the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The Butte regulatory site is currently considered the site with the highest fine particulate matter concentrations in the MSA. Due to proposed construction where the monitor is currently located, DEC has been asked to look for an alternative site.

The air quality study is designed to identify areas of similar PM2.5 impacts as the current regulatory site by using low-cost, non-regulatory MetOne NPM-CDMA Neighborhood monitors. Air quality will be characterized using EPA Air Quality Index (AQI) classifications, which range from “Good” to “Hazardous” based on the measurable pollution in the air. The monitors will be placed at sites to the North, East, South, and West of the current regulatory site from November 2020 to March 2021. During the study, data is available real time on DEC’s website.

After the study is completed, DEC will identify if there is a suitable replacement location for the existing site. To create a long term data record, monitoring would continue at both locations for at least a year. Once EPA approved the new site location, the existing monitoring site can be shut down and removed. If no suitable sites are identified after the study, the regulatory site will have to remain at the current location.

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