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Pima County gets a "D" grade for days with high levels of ozone

Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 12:31:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Ground level ozone is bad for your heart and lungs, causes cancer, and can result in early death.

Invisible compounds in the air react to the strong Arizona sun.

“We tend to have the most intense sunlight from about April through September when the position of the sun is more directly above us,” said Pima County Department of Environmental Quality Senior Program Manager Beth Gorman.

She says ozone can even affect the economy. If we have another bad summer like the one we had last year, the EPA could step in, which would make it harder for businesses to expand and new businesses to move in. Something that has never happened in Tucson.

“Last summer was a high summer, they average that together, so if we could try to keep this summer at low levels of ozone when it is averaged in with other summers maybe we'll just skim by.”

The American Lung Association recently gave Pima County a D grade for having too many days with unhealthy levels of ozone. Maricopa, Yuma, Gila and Pinal counties got F’s.

But Gorman says things like carpooling, gassing up in the evening, taking mass transit or bicycling more could keep our ozone levels down.

“I think if we decide as a community we want clean healthy air, we can do it. “