Air Quality Program

Special Studies

Impacts of a New Gasoline Benzene Regulation on Ambient Air Pollutants in Anchorage, AK

In order to assess the local impacts of a new EPA regulation limiting the amount of benzene in gasoline nationally, the Anchorage Department of Health conducted a two-phase study of gasoline and ambient air prior to the new regulations (2009) and then after the benzene limit in gas came into effect (2012). Results showed that benzene content in gasoline dropped 70% and levels in outdoor air were reduced nearly 50%. These studies were conducted with grant funds from EPA.

Anchorage Benzene Monitoring Study Fact Sheet 

Architectural, Behavioral and Environmental Factors Associated with VOCs in Anchorage Homes

Between November 1994 and January 1996, the Anchorage Air Quality Program measured volatile organic compounds in 137 Anchorage homes.  Levels of benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Anchorage homes with attached garages were 2 to 50 times higher than those outdoors and significantly higher than concentrations measured in similar studies conducted in US, Canada, and Europe. There was a strong association between indoor VOC concentrations and attached garages.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Air Toxics Monitoring Study

In 2002 the Anchorage Air Quality Program conducted a study to address concerns by west Anchorage residents about the effect of air pollutant emissions from the airport.  VOCs were measured in and around the airport and compared to measurements from other parts of the Anchorage Bowl, further away from the airport.  Generally, VOC concentrations in the vicinity of the airport were lower than most other parts of the city.  The study was unable to link specific pollutants with odor complaints in the airport area.

Influence of Attached Garages on Indoor VOC Concentrations

In 2003-2004 the Municipality of Anchorage and the University of Washington collaborated on a study to further investigate the mechanisms that lead to high concentrations of benzene and other VOCs in homes with attached garages.  Fifty homes were evaluated.  VOCs were measured in the attached garage were about four times higher than the living space of the house.  VOC concentrations in the house and garage were much higher than the outside air.  Tracer gas measurements indicated that large amounts of heavily contaminated garage air infiltrates into the living space of the home.



House with tuck-under garage - Anchorage, Alaska