Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Air Quality Advisory for Particulates and Ozone

The following report was released by the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality for June 20, 2017

Pima County, Ariz. – The hazy skies and disappearing mountain views are linked to wildfires in the region.

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) is issuing an air quality advisory due to elevated levels of particulate matter throughout eastern Pima County. According to the National Weather Service, winds are bringing smoke from the Frye Fire near Safford into the Tucson area.

In addition, there is a possibility that strong winds predicted for later today could add airborne dust to the mix of elevated particulates. Particulate levels will likely remain in the air for a day or more until the wind direction and speeds change, or if it rains. Also, when the cloud cover we are currently experiencing dissipates, it is possible that the solar radiation will increase ground-level ozone pollution as well.

Individuals with heart disease and respiratory sensitivities may want to reduce their level of exertion to decrease the amount of particulates they breathe into their lungs. Small particles can travel into the respiratory system and cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Those most at risk may feel better if they avoid outside exercise, stay inside as much as possible, and keep windows and doors closed to help reduce exposure to particulate matter.

Particulate matter is made up of tiny specks of soot, dust, and aerosols that are suspended in the air we breathe. Particulate matter can come from dust from disturbed land that becomes airborne with high winds and also from combustion sources such as cars, industry, and indoor and outside fires.