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  • Check air pollution levels before attending outdoor celebrations

    Dec 20, 2017 | Read More News
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    Cool overnight temperatures have finally arrived and smoke from fireplaces and other sources may be more prevalent in our air.

    People who are sensitive to smoke and other air pollutants may want to check the air quality before heading outside during holiday celebrations. The smoke from fireplaces and fireworks can cause breathing challenges for those who are sensitive to air pollution. firepalce

    If possible, refrain from burning wood around your home to keep the air healthy for everyone to breathe. When the sky is overcast, the clouds can act like a blanket to keep smoke at nose-level. Checking air quality on the Pima Department of Environmental Quality’s website can help those at risk reduce their exposure if pollution levels are elevated.
    Historically, PDEQ staff have noticed an increase in particulate matter when the weather is cool on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter (PM2.5) tends to come from combustion-related sources such as vehicle emissions and smoke from fires and fireworks. Human exposure to PM2.5 is linked to a variety of health problems. According to the EPA, exposure to fine particles can cause:
    • Premature death, especially due to cardiovascular effects. Breathing in fine particles can cause death by harming the heart and blood vessels. This includes changes in the way the heart and blood vessels function, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, cardiac arrest, and/or congestive heart failure.
    • Non-fatal cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for congestive heart failure and ischemic heart disease (reduced blood supply to the heart).
    People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. “We are fortunate that our air pollution levels are low enough that these temporary increases in particulate matter shouldn’t cause us to have to implement ‘no-burn or no-fireworks days’ or to violate EPA health standards,” said Beth Gorman, PDEQ Senior Program Manager. “The Phoenix and Nogales areas often have air quality problems around the holidays, but so far, our air quality in Pima County has stayed within the healthy range. However, people who are sensitive may want to stay away from smoky and fireworks-prone areas over the holidays.” 
    PDEQ monitors for various air pollutants 24-hours a day at 16 different monitoring locations throughout eastern Pima County. Real-time PM2.5 and other air quality monitoring data is available on-line at PDEQ’s website. Watch PDEQ’s PM2.5 video in English and Spanish developed by a University of Arizona Intern.