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How to check air quality levels in Pima County

Posted at 4:39 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 21:16:32-04
When the winds pick up and the dust starts blowing, air quality monitors in Pima County take notice. 
 
"They suck in the air, outside air, they separate out the particle sizes," said Beth Gorman, a senior program manager with the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.
 
She says the smaller the particle size, the more damaging it is to our health because the body's natural filters won't stop it from getting into the lungs. And on windy days, Gorman says the numbers go up. 
 
"We do see elevated levels, but they haven't gotten into the really high range yet so we've been very, very fortunate," said Gorman.
 
All of the data from the county's 17 air quality monitoring sites is updated in real time on the PDEQ website.    
 
You can check the monitoring site closest to you using this map and see what the current air quality index is at that time.
 
According to Gorman, anything between 0-50 is considered good. From 51-100 is moderate and once the number exceeds 100, the department will issue an air quality advisory.
 
People most at risk include the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors or people with lung or heart disease. 
 
"Because we've had so many days of wind, I don't know, we'll see," said Gorman. "Yesterday the levels weren't that high and I was kind of surprised." 
 
The department also helps regulate blowing dust coming from a business or private property owner. If you see excessive amounts of blowing dust, you can report it to the PDEQ here. However, the department does not have the authority to regulate agriculture.