Air quality worsens across state as temperatures rise, fires burn

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 8:37 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - There are smoky, hazy skies across much of Arizona as wildfires continue to burn and extremely hot temperatures contribute to less-than-perfect air quality.

The Loop was almost empty Tuesday, as southern Arizona suffered through a string of days hitting 110 and above.

Aside from the heat, the air quality has been keeping people indoors.

“Generally speaking, on days like yesterday and today, your best bet is to be indoors,”said Natalie Shepp, with the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

The hot, sunny weather is a perfect breeding ground for pollution and PCDEQ issued an ozone advisory Monday. On Tuesday, their monitors showed good air quality for the most part. However, Air Now monitors showed moderate air quality across much of southern Arizona.

“Smoke from the Telegraph Fire, the Mescal Fire, the Pinnacle Fire and then even in New Mexico, we’re seeing smoke from the Johnson Fire all transporting into the region,” said Matt Pace, an air quality meteorologist with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

A Pima County viewer found small bits of ash on their windows Tuesday morning, but still no air quality advisory in place.

Phoenix will likely have them throughout the rest of the week, but the Old Pubelo may steer clear if people can help reduce the ozone pollutants.

“It’s very possible it could happen in the days and weeks ahead with these types of temperatures,” Shepp said. “I would anticipate that the north side would have more smoke.”

According to ADEQ, Pima County exceeded the EPA standards for pollutants close to 10 times last year but most were due to smoke from wildfires.

There are several things you can do to reduce emissions and pollutants.

PDEQ said reducing vehicle trips is a big one and that carpooling helps. Also, keep the correct amount of air in your tires, which helps your vehicle be most efficient. Finally, PDEQ has a voucher program to help turn in gas-powered lawn and garden tools for electric ones.

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