State of the Air Report shows air quality remains impacted by pollutants in some parts of Arizona
(April 18, 2018) -
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The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” 2018 report shows that air quality improved in much of Arizona, but many cities still have too much pollution and received low grades for air quality. These grades reflect the levels of ozone and particulate matter (smoke and dust) in the air during 2014-2016.
“The American Lung Association is pleased to see the progress that Arizona has made in cleaning up the air. At high levels, these pollutants can harm your health, especially in children, older adults and people with respiratory issues. They can even shorten your life,” said JoAnna Strother, the Regional Director for Public Policy at the American Lung Association. “The ‘State of the Air’ report gives people an overview of air quality where they live and provides them with the necessary information to protect themselves.”
The “State of the Air” 2018 report found that four counties in Arizona —Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yuma—earned an F for having too many days when ozone levels reached the unhealthy levels, but all four had fewer high ozone days than in the last report that looked at data from 2013-2015. Even with the improvement in high ozone days, the Phoenix metro area still ranked as the 8th most ozone-polluted city in the nation in the report. Tucson ranked as the 54th and Yuma as the 58th most ozone-polluted cities.
Both Maricopa County and Pinal County also earned an F for having too many days when particle pollution spiked to unhealthy levels, but Phoenix experienced fewer of those episodes in 2014-2016 than in the previous report. All counties in Arizona earned a passing grade for their year-round particle levels, which remain well-below the official limits. To see more of the details of the grades, go to www.Lung.org/SOTA.
Over the last 40 years, since the Clean Air Act became federal law, air quality has improved. The data since 1990 shows even as the population and economy has grown in Arizona, emissions of pollutants has gone down.
Uncontrollable factors like weather and climate play a significant role in Arizona’s air quality. The sunny and long days of summer turn emissions from vehicles, vegetation and industry into ozone. During periods of light winds, common in early summer, ozone builds up over urban areas and may exceed federal health standards. Particulate matter can also increase in the air during dry, calm weather. Dust kicked up from travel on paved and dirt roads, burning wood for heat during cooler times of the year, and fireworks set off during the holidays all contribute to elevated levels of particulate matter. Dust can also be transported through the air from high winds.
“We are now at the point that improving air quality becomes a community effort. While there are low grades, each of us can do our part to turn that around,” comments Timothy Franquist, Air Quality Division Director at ADEQ. “Driving less and switching to electric cars can go a long way into curtailing ozone. Plus minimizing travel on dirt roads and the use of lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers, can cut down the amount of dust in the air. When all of us take steps to reduce our impact on the environment, we all win with better air quality.”
Click the links below for:
- Video Interview with Timothy Franquist, ADEQ Air Quality Division Director
- Video Interview with Joanna Strother, American Lung Association Regional Director for Public Policy
- Transcription of video interviews
- B-roll video
- Link to the online “State of the Air” report- www.Lung.org/SOTA
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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