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The original item was published from 12/29/2017 5:44:00 PM to 1/2/2018 12:00:00 AM.

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Air Quality

Posted on: December 30, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Air Pollution Could Reach "Very Unhealthy Levels"

No Burn Day BCBB

We all enjoy a cozy fire to celebrate the New Year but this weekend if you light up there could be some serious health consequences. Maricopa County could see some of the highest levels of PM 2.5 (smoke) in recent years.

According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ), air quality forecasts PM. 2.5 levels for New Year's Day, will likely reach the “Very Unhealthy” category. This is only the third time in the last 12 years that New Year’s Day has reached that level.

The high PM 2.5 levels are due to a great deal of wood burning activity this past weekend. Since the Christmas Holiday there has been stagnant air that has not allowed any pollution to clear out of the region. With more smoke generating holiday activities anticipated on New Year’s Eve/Day, including fireworks, the high numbers are expected.

This weekend, Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) has declared “No Burn’ Days in Maricopa County with the following mandatory restrictions in effect:

  • Wood burning in residential fireplaces, chimineas, outdoor fire pits, and similar outdoor fires, including hotels and restaurants and individuals/businesses that have permits for open burning.
  • Use of leaf blowers on governmental properties
  • Use of off-road vehicles

"It is always very important to abide by the No Burn restrictions especially this weekend,” Maricopa County Air Quality Director Philip McNeely said. “With the exceedingly high levels predicted there are serious health effects. Not just for those with respiratory issues but for everyone in Maricopa County."

People with heart or lung diseases, older adults and children are most likely to be affected by particle pollution. Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs and can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to these fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

When air quality is in the Very Unhealthy AQI category like we are expecting for New Year's Day, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends the following: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor activities. Everyone else, especially children, should also limit outdoor exertion.

For more information please contact Bob Huhn – 602-506-6713 desk/602-526-7307 cell.



  • High Pollution Advisory (HPA): Notifies the public that the level of an air pollutant is expected to exceed the federal health standard
  • Health Watch: Notifies the public that the level of an air pollutant is expected to approach the federal health standard
  • Particulate Matter: State and county agencies measure levels of particulate matter (PM) in the air. PM is extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets that circulate in air. PM comes from combustion (cars, industry, wood burning) or dust stirred up into the air. High levels of PM occur when air is especially stagnant or windy. Two types of PM are measured: PM10, commonly called dust, and PM2.5, commonly called soot. PM10 refers to dust particles 10 microns or less and PM2.5 to soot particles 2.5 microns or less. For perspective, one strand of human hair is 70-100 microns in size.


The Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) is a regulatory agency whose goal is to ensure federal clean air standards are achieved and maintained for the residents and visitors of Maricopa County. The department is governed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and follows air quality standards set forth by the federal Clean Air Act. The department offers air quality information and resources on its Clean Air Make More website:

CONTACT: Bob Huhn – 602-506-6713 desk/602-526-7307 cell

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