When it comes to Arizona air quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed it improved and within federal standards. The changes were focused in Maricopa County, where about 80% of the state’s population resides. Focus is now moving to Pinal and Yuma counties, where there is still a need to improve air quality.
What happens when air quality is poor?
At John’s Refrigeration, we talk a lot about indoor air quality, but the air outside is just as important. Breathing conditions, including asthma and allergies, are worse when air quality is low. You sneeze more. Your chest feels heavier and you may be getting winded when you’re exercising outside. These are all signs of poor air quality.
What was done to improve Arizona air quality?
Eric Massey, Air Quality Division Director at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the number one reason improvement happened was partnership of local, state, and national stakeholders, including the EPA. They came together to offer “common solutions to common air quality problems.” [Source]
What were the challenges?
The biggest challenges to improving Arizona air quality were:
- Best practices that work in other parts of the country weren’t going to work here due to funding and climate.
- Cost of improvements and compliance monitoring was limited.
For example, in many places, watering the dust is a way to keep air quality at an acceptable level. In Arizona, we don’t have enough water to do this, so officials had to look at other solutions.
Another example is that Arizona doesn’t have funding for the number of air quality inspectors that we need. By creating solutions that were acceptable across a variety of industries and government entities, we created an organically compliant system. Each agency had a stake in improving – and continuing to improve – air quality. That means less inspectors are needed.
What can we do to maintain this level of air quality?
Over the winter, we hear about no-burn days being in effect. These are days designated by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Maricopa Air Quality Department as days when wood-burning fireplaces, chimineas, and other wood burning sources are not to be used. Burning on these days traps particulate matter that aggravates breathing problems and puts young children and the elderly at greater risk.
Complying with no-burn days is a way to directly help your neighbors breathe easier, as well as help the county and state maintain a healthy level of air quality.
Improving air quality in AZ is a team effort of agencies, businesses, and neighbors who have a collective mission to keep air quality at safe and healthy levels.