Getting You Excited about Clean Air

Since my partnership with Pima Association of Governments (PAG) began, I have honestly been most excited about what I am learning. I had no idea of the magnitude and scope of what they do. I have also been excited about sharing things in any way I can because if I am excited, I can hopefully get other people excited about it too. Case in point, clean air & again – why we should care.

One aspect that contributes to our great  quality of life in the Tucson, Arizona desert environment is our beautiful blue skies … when they are not filled with our monsoon clouds. (And believe me, most of us welcome the beauty of those clouds as well because they mean rain.)

We are fortunate that we usually have healthy air here and we can still see for miles in all directions.Having a daughter who lives in Los Angeles, I know & appreciate what a blessing this is.  Some of the other major cities across the country, even the size of Tucson,  can’t claim clear skies.

From my view, it begs the question: what can do do to we keep it that way?

Here’s a little bit of the info I have learned from the above mentioned PAG partnership that will help with understanding the “clean air can start with me” conversation. Three pollutants, ozone, coarse particulate matter (PM10) and carbon monoxide (CO) are of particular concern in our region. Most important:  for some time, our levels of ozone have been close to reaching standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which establishes health standards for ambient air. (That is not a good thing…) The EPA is currently reviewing ozone standards and is expected to propose a new standard in October. 2013, which may be lower than the current standards. In other words, let’s engage in conscious living & do our part to preventing things getting worse.

Stay with me. Since we live in an arid environment, strong winds during hot summer months can send high levels of particulates into the air at any time. Although currently not a problem, CO levels were high in the late 1970s and early 1980s and levels are closely tracked due to binding agreements with the EPA. At high levels, all three of these pollutants can irritate the lungs and can cause damage to the circulatory and respiratory systems. It really impacts older people and anyone suffering from things like asthma.

One of the culprits? Motor vehicle emissions are a major source of pollutants in Pima County. So if just makes sense that reducing the amount of miles driven, improving gas mileage and keeping our vehicles well tuned all help to keep our air healthy.

Another way to help? Reducing our electricity use also means less air pollution because utility companies produce air pollutants when they generate electricity. Remember to turn off your lights and other units that use electricity in your home or at work. How hard can this be when it means blue skies?

And last but not least is all about water – our most precious resource!  Always try to remember that water pumping and delivery require a large amount of electricity – so conserving water also helps to keep our air clean.

Some really good news if you are reading this and do live in Pima County? Pima Association of Governments and the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality are launching the “Clean Air Starts With Me” outreach program this summer to help all of us understand what causes air pollution and how we can be responsible in our own lives to keep our air clean for future generations.

For more information, visit www.PimaCleanAir.com or the “PimaCleanAir” facebook page.

Hats off to PAG & the great people who work there for the difference they are making in all of our lives – whether we knew it or not!