PHOENIX (August 17, 2022) – Maricopa County residents may have noticed numerous ozone High Pollution Advisories (HPAs) this summer. The purpose of an HPA is to notify the public about the potential for unhealthy air quality conditions so everyone can stay safe and implement changes to help reduce the levels of air pollution in the Valley.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issues HPA alerts when the highest concentration of a pollutant may exceed the federal health standard established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect public health. In response to HPAs, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) declares No Burn Days. No Burn Day restrictions last for a 24-hour period, starting at midnight, and include a ban on wood burning activities including fireplaces, fire pits, and open outdoor fires. The purpose of a No Burn Day restriction is to avoid adding pollution to the air when the forecast suggests pollution levels will exceed federal health standards.
“It is our priority to protect public health by providing timely alerts that allow the public to take precautions against air pollution and make decisions that positively impact the air quality in Maricopa County,” said MCAQD Director Philip McNeely.
Overall, air quality has significantly improved in Maricopa County in recent decades due to increased local regulation and public awareness. However, the EPA reduced the federal health standard for ozone in Maricopa County in 2015, resulting in an increase in the frequency of ozone HPAs.
Major contributors to ozone include the valley’s topography, weather patterns, wildfires, and commercial and private vehicles on public roads.
Over the years, MCAQD and ADEQ have developed a robust notification system to alert the public and media when an HPA is issued. These notifications are shared through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s freeway signs, text and e-mail messages, app notifications, news weather broadcasts, web sites, social media, and more.
Breathing ozone can trigger or worsen a variety of health problems such as chest pain, coughing, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and more. MCAQD advises residents and visitors to avoid strenuous and/or prolonged outdoor activities to avoid exposure during days when alerts are issued.
To reduce the negative effects of ground-level ozone pollution, MCAQD launches the annual “Commit to One Day and Help Keep Ozone Away!” campaign, providing education and resources so residents, businesses, and visitors of Maricopa County can help prevent the formation of ozone. To learn more about the campaign or to sign up to receive air quality updates, visit CleanAirMakeMore.com.
About Maricopa County Air Quality Department
MCAQD’s mission is to improve the air of Maricopa County so customers, residents, and visitors can live, work, and play in a healthy environment. MCAQD is governed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and follows air quality standards set forth by the federal Clean Air Act. For air quality information and resources, visit CleanAirMakeMore.com.
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