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Air quality health watch issued for Pima County Aug. 24

Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 18:26:44-04

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, Clean Air Program issued an 'Air Quality Health Watch' due to higher levels of ground-level ozone air pollution and particulates in the Tucson metro area Monday.

According to a news release from PDEQ, air quality monitors captured levels of ozone surpassing the federal health standard August 19, 21, and 22. Hazy skies are expected through the week, causing an increase in air pollution.

Wildfire smoke transported from California wildfires, as well as fires in our area, are likely a significant contributor to recent and current 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 provides additional precursors that combine in the presence of sunlight to create ozone.

Individuals who are sensitive to air pollution may experience shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, wheezing, and breathing discomfort, according to PDEQ. Those who are sensitive to air pollution may want to restrict outside activities during the afternoon when ozone pollution is much more likely to be elevated.

Steps to take to help reduce emissions:

  • 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

Up-to-the-hour air pollution levels are available online through the PDEQ website, here.