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J Community Health. 2013 Aug;38(4):773-80. doi: 10.1007/s10900-013-9678-9.

Sources and perceptions of indoor and ambient air pollution in rural Alaska.

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Center for Environmental Health Sciences, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.


Even though Alaska is the largest state in the United States, much of the population resides in rural and underserved areas with documented disparities in respiratory health. This is especially true in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (southwest) and Ahtna (southcentral) Regions of Alaska. In working with community members, the goal of this study was to identify the air pollution issues (both indoors and outdoors) of concern within these two regions. Over a two-year period, 328 air quality surveys were disseminated within seven communities in rural Alaska. The surveys focused on understanding the demographics, home heating practices, indoor activities, community/outdoor activities, and air quality perceptions within each community. Results from these surveys showed that there is elevated potential for PM10/PM2.5 exposures in rural Alaska communities. Top indoor air quality concerns included mold, lack of ventilation or fresh air, and dust. Top outdoor air pollution concerns identified were open burning/smoke, road dust, and vehicle exhaust (e.g., snow machines, ATVs, etc.). These data can now be used to seek additional funding for interventions, implementing long-term, sustainable solutions to the identified problems. Further research is needed to assess exposures to PM10/PM2.5 and the associated impacts on respiratory health, particularly among susceptible populations such as young children.

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