Where Does Clean Air Start Anyway?

Have you ever really thought about some of the reasons why people love living in our beautiful Southwest?  Have you ever considered that one of the top reasons  just might be the beautiful blue sky and clean air we get to enjoy almost every single day? Most of us even love it when the sky darkens & the Monsoon clouds start rolling in? I especially appreciate how great we have it here after returning from big cities where smog is any every day occurrence and you can actually “smell” the air.

I’d like to believe we all want to be sure we keep it that way, right?  As with so many things in life, clean air really does start with me, you and every one of us who call Tucson & Pima County our home.

Here are some thoughts for you to ponder and, most importantly, small things we can all do that add up to make a big difference:

Realities to consider:

Three pollutants, ozone, 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. The EPA is currently reviewing the ozone standards and is expected to propose a new standard in December. 2013, which may be lower than the current standards.

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.

How we can help ourselves:

1. Motor vehicle emissions are a major source of pollutants in Pima County.  Reducing the amount of miles driven, (carpooling, public transit) improving gas mileage and keeping our vehicles well tuned and tired inflated all help to keep our air healthy. We can all do this?

2. Reducing our electricity use also means less air pollution because utility companies produce air pollution because local electricity generation requires the burning of fuels, which contributes to air pollution levels. Remember to turn off your lights and other units that use electricity in your home at work.

3. Water pumping and delivery require a large amount of electricity – so conserving water also helps to keep our air clean.

Where We Can Learn More:

Pima Association of Governments & Pima County Department of Environmental Quality are great air quality partners!

Pima Association of Governments and the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality are continuing the “Clean Air Starts With Me” outreach program  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, and additional tips for keeping our air clean, visit www.PimaCleanAir.com or the “PimaCleanAir” facebook page.  AND please help by spreading the good, green word about all of these worthwhile efforts.  Let’s be the change.

p.s. for a fun, engaging podcast covering the above mentioned points, click right here.  Talk about living green & your call to action!