The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is issuing a Health Watch for Dec. 26, 2017, for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), also known as soot, for Maricopa County, Arizona. This Health Watch is due to particle pollutant levels expected to accumulate enough to possibly exceed the federal health standard for PM2.5.
During this Health Watch, Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) has declared a “No Burn Day” in Maricopa County and the following mandatory restrictions are in effect:
- Wood burning in residential fireplaces, chimineas, outdoor fire pits, and similar outdoor fires (including at hotels and restaurants and individuals/businesses that have permits for open burning)
- Use of leaf blowers on governmental properties
- Use of off-road vehicles
People with heart or lung diseases, older adults and children are most likely to be affected by particle pollution. Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs and can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to these fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
Employers and Travel Reduction Program Transportation Coordinators are advised to activate their Health Watch Plans immediately. ADEQ further recommends that the general public limit outdoor activity while the Health Watch is in effect, especially children and adults with respiratory problems.
ADEQ and MCAQD encourage residents and employers to use the following tips and resources to help make the air healthier to breathe:
- Visit cleanairmakemore.com to learn more about reducing air pollution
- Drive as little as possible, carpool, use public transit, or telecommute
- Visit ShareTheRide.com to plan a transit trip or find a carpool or vanpool
- Avoid activities that generate dust, such as driving on dirt roads
- High Pollution Advisory (HPA): Notifies the public that the level of an air pollutant is expected to exceed the federal health standard
- Health Watch: Notifies the public that the level of an air pollutant is expected to approach the federal health standard
- Particulate Matter: State and county agencies measure levels of particulate matter (PM) in the air. PM is extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets that circulate in air. PM comes from combustion (cars, industry, wood burning) or dust stirred up into the air. High levels of PM occur when air is especially stagnant or windy. Two types of PM are measured: PM10, commonly called dust, and PM2.5, commonly called soot. PM10 refers to dust particles 10 microns or less and PM2.5 to soot particles 2.5 microns or less. For perspective, one strand of human hair is 70-100 microns in size.