Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) is issuing an advisory for ground-level ozone air pollution for the Tucson metropolitan area today. Particulate matter levels will also likely be elevated due to the Contreras Fire southwest of Tucson. Individuals who are especially sensitive to air pollution may experience shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, wheezing, and breathing discomfort.
If you are especially sensitive to ozone, you may want to limit your level of exertion outside between noon and 6 p.m. when elevated levels of ozone pollution are more likely to occur. Intense physical outdoor activity causes faster and deeper breathing, which allows ozone to penetrate into the parts of the lungs that are more likely to be injured.
Those who are most likely to be sensitive to ozone include children, adults who are active outdoors, people with respiratory diseases, and certain individuals who have an unusual sensitivity to this particular pollutant. Those people who are feeling symptoms should seek medical attention, if necessary.
There are many types of emissions that contribute to the creation of ground-level ozone. Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial and power plant emissions, gasoline vapors, chemical solvents, as well as natural sources, emit oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds that form ozone in the presence of intense sunlight and heat.
Actions to reduce the production of ground level ozone:
- Reduce driving - combine errands into one trip.
- Ride the bus, walk, bike, or share a ride with friends and family.
- Avoid idling your vehicle’s engine. It wastes gas and causes air pollution.
- During the summer, re-fuel your car after 6 p.m. when vapors are less likely to form ozone.
- While re-fueling, always stop at the click.
- Make sure your gas cap is tightly sealed after re-fueling.
- Avoid using gas powered lawn and gardening equipment.
- Check your tire pressure monthly to reduce gasoline use and associated pollution.
- Conserve electricity to reduce emissions from power plants.
PDEQ’s Clean Air Program works to educate Pima County residents about potential health effects associated with elevated levels of air pollution and to promote actions to reduce air pollution levels.
Air pollution information is available online at the PDEQ website. To receive air pollution advisories, sign up here.