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Air quality advisory: Pima County hit with 'regional dust plume'

Pima County officials are cautioning residents to limit their outdoor activities because of the high level of dust in the air Thursday. A "regional dust plume" has raised the level of airborne particles, and cold weather may lead to more smoking fireplaces overnight, officials said.

"According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, a regional dust plume from California, Nevada and western Arizona was transported to our area early this morning," county officials said.

Daytime breezes will clear out some of the dust, but higher levels may return Friday morning as the cold weather persists.

From Pima County:

With cold weather forecasted today and tomorrow, smoke from fireplace fires might become a concern. PDEQ reminds residents to avoid or reduce fireplace fires when possible, especially during periods of elevated air pollution levels, and to burn hard woods like oak, pecan or mesquite, which burn hotter and cleaner than softer woods such as pine.

Unusually sensitive people, including individuals with heart disease and respiratory sensitivities, may want to consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion to decrease the amount of particulates they breathe into their lungs. Small particles can travel into the respiratory system and cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Those most at risk may feel better if they avoid outside exercise, stay inside as much as possible, and keep windows and doors closed to help reduce exposure to particulate matter.

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