Arizona’s air quality has worsened the past couple of years, report says

Apr 30, 2022, 5:00 AM
View of the downtown Phoenix, Arizona city skyline as seen from South Mountain Park, August 28, 201...
View of the downtown Phoenix, Arizona city skyline as seen from South Mountain Park, August 28, 2018. (Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s air quality has worsened over the last couple of years, while it cut fewer unhealthy days for ozone pollution, according to a new report.

The Phoenix metropolitan area came in at fifth in the nation for unhealthy ozone days, relatively unchanged since the 2018-2020 reports, but still recorded 61.9 less high ozone days compared to 1996, according to an American Lung Association press release.

Maricopa, Gila, Pima and Pinal counties received an “F” grade in the State of the Air 2022 report for the number of high level ozone days. Yuma County received a “C,” an improvement from last year.

The capital of Arizona was unchanged at eighth in the nation for particle pollution year-round but still recorded 6.5 more days of unhealthy particle pollution in the year compared to 2000.

Maricopa, Santa Cruz and Pinal counties received “F” grades for the amount of recorded high particle pollution days.

“As a southwestern desert state with the sunniest cities in the country and increasing wildfires in the western U.S., Arizona, like our neighboring states, shares real air quality challenges when it comes to ozone and particle pollution,” Daniel Czecholinksi, ADEQ air quality division director, said in the release.

“While we’ve achieved significant improvements in overall air quality over the last 30 years from a 68 percent reduction in emissions — even as Arizona’s population has grown and our economy thrived — more wildfires in the western U.S. create and transport more ozone particle pollution into the state, which affects our air quality.”

Across the Valley, car emissions are the biggest contributor to man-made ozone.

Officials noted in the report that during the winter holiday season, a mix of fireplaces, burning wood in fire pits and fireworks can aid to the high levels of particulate matter pollution.

California cities Bakersfield, Fresno and Visalia were ranked in the top 3 for particle pollution year-round.

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Arizona’s air quality has worsened the past couple of years, report says