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  • Air Quality Health Watch Issued for Pima County

    Aug 27, 2020 | Read More News
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    Pima County, Ariz. - The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) Clean Air Program has issued an Air Quality Health Watch for August 27, 2020, due to the potential for elevated levels of ground-level ozone air pollution and particulates in the Tucson metropolitan area. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is forecasting ozone to be in the upper moderate range this afternoon. Air Quality Health Watch

    Wildfire smoke transported from California wildfires, as well as other fires, are likely a significant contributor to higher levels of ozone and particulates. In addition to motor vehicle exhaust, industrial and power plant emissions, gasoline vapors, chemical solvents and natural sources, wildfire smoke is comprised of ozone precursors that combine in the presence of sunlight to create ozone. 

    People who are very sensitive to air pollution may experience shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, wheezing, and breathing discomfort. If sensitive to air pollution, individuals may want to limit outside exertion in the afternoon when elevated levels of ozone pollution are more likely to occur. Intense outdoor physical activity causes faster and deeper breathing, which allows ozone and particulates to penetrate into parts of the lungs that are more susceptible to injury. 

    Children, adults who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory diseases tend to be more sensitive to these pollutants. Individuals who are feeling symptoms should seek medical attention, if necessary.

    Although wildfire smoke is a significant contributing factor in current ozone conditions, we can all help by taking controllable actions that reduce emissions, such as:

    Reduce driving - combine errands into one trip, ride the bus, bike, walk or share rides
    Avoid idling your vehicle’s engine. Refrain from long drive-thru lines - park and go inside instead
    Re-fuel your car after 6 p.m. when fumes are less likely to form ozone
    While re-fueling, always stop at the click to avoid spills and overfilling gas tank
    Make sure your gas cap is tightly sealed after re-fueling
    Check your tire pressure monthly to reduce gasoline use and associated air pollution
    Use low VOC or water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers
    Avoid using gas-powered lawn and gardening equipment
    Conserve electricity to reduce emissions from power plants

    PDEQ monitors air pollution at 14 locations in eastern Pima County. Up-to-the-hour air pollution levels are available on the PDEQ website air monitoring section. Individuals can sign up to receive Air Quality Advisories and other Pima County Department of Environmental Quality notices via email. In addition, individuals can sign up to receive Arizona Department of Environmental Quality 5-Day Air Quality Forecasts for Pima County.