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Air pollution hits harmful levels Wednesday, Pima County warns

Air pollution hits harmful levels Wednesday, Pima County warns

  • A hazy day in Tucson on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
    airnow.govA hazy day in Tucson on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Air pollution in the Tucson metro area hit harmful levels on Wednesday, with high concentrations of ground-level ozone, prompting an advisory from Pima County that residents should avoid intense physical outdoor activity.

Residents, especially anyone sensitive to air pollution, should limit how much they exert themselves outside between noon and 6 p.m., county officials said.

“Individuals who are especially sensitive to air pollution may experience shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, wheezing and breathing discomfort,” Department of Environmental Quality officials said.

PDEQ detected high amounts of ground-level ozone in the Tucson metro area’s air. Ground-level ozone commonly comes from car exhaust, industrial and power plant emissions and volatile organic compounds, or hydrocarbons, that react with heat and sunlight, PDEQ said.

People who might 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, PDEQ said. Anyone feeling symptoms should seek medical attention, the advisory warns.

According to the advisory, intense physical outdoor activity also allows ozone to penetrate into part of the lungs more likely to be injured.

PDEQ recommended the following actions to reduce adding to ground-level air pollution:    

   Reduced driving and combining errands.

    Avoid leaving the engine running.

    Refuel cars after 6 p.m. when vapors are less likely to form air-pollutants like ozone.

    Always stop at the click when refueling.

    Avoid using gas-powered lawn and gardening equipment.

    Check tire pressure monthly to reduce gas use.

    Conserve electricity to reduce emissions from power plants.

The is the second ground-level ozone air advisory in the past week and of the year. Separate air advisories were issued for particulate matter due to high winds in April, and for residents near the chemical spill on Interstate 10 in February.

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