KGUN 9NewsLocal News


Lack of monsoon storms may affect air quality

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 01:29:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The cicadas are blaring, the wind is blowing -- but no rain-drenching monsoon storms in most of our region.

"When we haven't had rain, then the soil dries out," Beth Gorman, with the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality said. "And it becomes much easier for it to become airborne.

Gorman says even people who have lived in Southern Arizona for a while, may not know this happens when it's dry and windy out, for an extended amount of time. This is often right before monsoon.

She says a way to tell, if you don't know, is to look at the mountains.

"For instance, they can't see the mountains clearly, then they can assume there is something in the air that is blocking visibility," Gorman said.

There are two types of air pollutants we need to be aware of this time of year, Gorman says. They are particulate matter (PM), which is dust that comes up from dry soil, and surface ozone pollution. A lot of ozone pollution comes from cars, and it worsens depending on the angle of the sun, and when there is no wind.

This week, there were moderate levels of ozone pollution in Pima County, according to Gorman.

She recommends people sensitive to air pollution avoid being outside for a long time, when levels are high.

Check Pima County air quality levels here. See Tucson's hour-by-hour air quality forecast here.