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Air quality finally to improve in metro Phoenix after days of high pollution

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PHOENIX — The bad air that has hung over the Phoenix area for the past several days could be clearing up a little later this week, Arizona environmental officials said Tuesday.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality expected improvement after unhealthy conditions New Year’s Day, but air quality was still poor enough that a high pollution advisory issued Dec. 30 would remain in effect.

Wood burning would not be allowed until Wednesday and use of leaf blowers also was restricted.

Originally, the advisory was set for Dec. 30-Jan. 1. The agency had issued the caution citing fine particulate matter levels in the air.

Pollutant levels that surpass federal health standards can cause respiratory problems for several groups, including anyone with heart or lung diseases.

The National Weather Service explained that temperature inversions keep smoke and soot from breaking up the way they’re supposed to and that winter in Phoenix was often the perfect example.

Normally, temperatures decrease with atmospheric height. Inversions are the opposite and it traps pollutants closer to the ground.

Winds were forecast to reach about 13 mph on Wednesday.

The rest of the week was going to be a mix of sunny and cloudy, with the warmest day coming Friday, at 75 degrees.

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