The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) upgraded the Health Watch to a High Pollution Advisory (HPA) for ozone effective July 26, 2019 in the Phoenix area. ADEQ recommends that people limit outdoor activity while the HPA is in effect, especially children and adults with respiratory problems.
Ground level ozone forms when two types of pollutants—volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—react in sunlight. These pollutants come primarily from automobiles, but also from other sources including industries, power plants and products, such as solvents and paints. Generally, the highest levels of ozone occur in the afternoon.
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People most vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution include children, older adults, adults exercising outdoors, people with heart or lung disease and those suffering from asthma and bronchitis. Exposure can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis or other lung disease and reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. Symptoms may include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain and upper respiratory issues.
Please help reduce ozone by doing one or more of the following:
- Drive as little as possible, carpool, use public transit or telecommute
- Re-fuel your vehicle in the evening
- Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants or banks – park your car and go inside
- Use low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) or water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers – delay big painting projects
- Make sure containers of household cleaners, garage and yard chemicals and other solvents are sealed properly to prevent vapors from evaporating into the air
- Employees and contractors of government entities are prohibited from operating leaf blowers.
- Open burning activity is restricted in Maricopa County. This includes individuals and businesses which have burn permits for open burning.
- Drive as little as possible: car pool, use public transit or telecommute. For information on transportation alternatives, visit Valley Metro: www.ShareTheRide.com
- Reduce your time waiting in long drive-thru lines. For example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants or banks. Park your car and go inside.
- Fuel your vehicle after dark or during cooler evening hours.
- Use low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) or water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers.
- Delay big painting projects until high-pollution advisories or health watches have passed.
- Make sure containers of household cleaners, garage and yard chemicals and other solvents are sealed properly to prevent vapors from evaporating into the air.
- Eliminate wood burning in fireplaces, stoves, chimineas and outdoor fire pits.
- Avoid using leaf blowers.
- Conserve electricity.
Due to unhealthy levels of ozone, Maricopa County Air Quality Department requests all Transportation Coordinators to email employees and activate your HPA plans. The department encourages the use of alternative modes of transportation, especially when pollution levels are expected to be on the rise.
Remind employees that they are encouraged to make more clean air. By taking small, simple steps every day, we can all make a difference. Additional tips on how to reduce air pollution can be found at www.CleanAirMakeMore.com.
Ozone: Ground level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction that needs heat from sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds [VOCs] to form. The months of April through September make up our Valley’s longer-than-normal “ozone season.”
“High Pollution Advisory” or “HPA” means the highest concentration of pollution may exceed the federal health standard. Active children, adults and people with lung disease such as asthma should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Maricopa County employers enlisted in the Travel Reduction Program are asked to activate their HPA plans on high pollution advisory days.
“Health Watch” means the highest concentration of pollution may approach the federal health standard. Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion during a health watch.