Phoenix air quality putting residents at risk

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Particulate pollution, high ozone days, and extreme heat are putting millions more people at risk every year. Many of those impacted reside in the Phoenix area.

Phoenix ranks 11th in the nation for the worst air quality. Last year, it was ranked 13th, making this year worst than the last, according to the American Lung Association’s annual report on air quality.

We heard from Rev. Jennifer Wynn, who has severe asthma and must check her phone app and local weather forecasts daily to determine if its safe for her to leave the house that day.

“Its easier to get out of breath, it feels heavy in the air, and your chest starts to feel heavy,” Wynn said.

When you breathe in ozone, its like a sunburn to the lungs. This is especially bad for anyone living near a polluted source like a freeway or gas plants, but no one is exempt, according to the American Lung Association.

“People said move to Phoenix because of its dryer climate and people tend to do better. But what happened was so many people moved here for the better air quality that now we have more cars on the road, people brought in trees and grass and so its gotten worse,” Wynn said.

We talked with Ari Halpert with the Maricopa Country Air Quality Department to hear more about how people can help combat worsening air quality.

“In order to protect the safety and health of the public we issue these advisories and offer restrictions to limit wood burning, the use of leaf blowers, etc. to protect the safety of Maricopa country residents,” Halpert said.

Among some of the biggest pollutants are motor vehicles, leaf blowers and non indigenous plants according to the Maricopa Association of Governments.

Rev. Jennifer Wynn, First Christian Church Disciples of Christ
Ari Halpert, Maricopa County Air Quality Department
JoAnna Strother, American Lunch Association
Matthew Pace, ASU Meteorologist
Tim Iranquist, Maricopa Association of Governors

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