The strange equipment visible along Seldovia’s Jakolof Bay Road isn’t a birdhouse, a UFO or a Little Chief Smoker with strips of salmon hanging inside.
It’s a project by Seldovia Village Tribe’s Environmental Office to monitor summertime dust by using high-volume samplers on loan from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Two monitoring sites have been established. At each site, samplers are located next to gray cases housing DustTrakII aerosol monitors mounted on tripods. The units collect information about levels of road dust in the air, known as PM10, particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less.
Components of particulate matter include a mixture of acids, metals, petroleum by-products, diesel soot, dust particles and soil, according to information provided by ADEC.
“Exposure to PM10 can cause breathing and respiratory conditions, damage to lung tissue and even cancer,” said Tracie Merrill, SVT environmental assistant. “The elderly, children and people with chronic lung disease, influenza or asthma are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.”
Road dust also can substantially reduce visibility for motorists and pedestrians.
The tribe’s environmental staff will monitor road dust levels from June through September.