Recent statistics released by the American Lung Association put Phoenix among U.S. cities with the most air pollution. According to the report, Phoenix ranked:
- #7 for high ozone days out of 228 metropolitan areas
- #10 for 24-hour particle pollution out of 217 metropolitan areas
- #7 for annual particle pollution out of 20 metropolitan areas
This news should alarm anyone who lives, works, or plays in the Valley.
Ozone and Particulate Pollution Present Serious Health Risks
Ozone is created when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds – which are released by fossil fuels and other chemicals – are exposed to heat and sunlight. According to the association, ozone is among the most dangerous pollutants. It can lead to premature death, cause breathing problems, exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, and is accompanied by a host of long-term exposure risks. Ozone is a primary ingredient in smog. Unfortunately, it’s one of the least-controlled pollutants in the U.S.
Particle pollution refers to a mix of minute liquid and solid particulate matter found in the air we breathe. Most are small enough to be invisible, but you might notice a haziness when there are higher levels of this type of pollution. Depending on the level of concentration, particle pollution can be very dangerous to breathe. It may trigger respiratory illness, hospitalization, and premature death. In fact, research has linked particulate pollution to increased mortality in infants, increased hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease, and more severe asthma attacks in children.
ACLPI is Known for Fighting for Clean Air
The Center has been deeply involved in issues regarding Phoenix’s notoriously poor air quality. We continually push both state and federal agencies to adhere to clean-air standards that are designed to protect the state’s residents, including groups most susceptible to pollution: those with pre-existing health conditions, young children and the elderly. We’re unafraid to demand compliance with regulations that protect Arizona’s communities.
- We recently sued the EPA for failing to act on dangerous particulate pollution in West Pinal County, which shares a border with Maricopa County.
- We are also asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the EPA’s decision with respect to numerous violations of the ozone standard in Phoenix, which the EPA is attempting to excuse on the ground they were supposedly “exceptional events” caused by a wildfire 300 miles away in San Bernardino, California.
This report from the American Lung Association illustrates how important our fight for clean air has become. But the Center is no stranger to this issue. Protecting the environment has long been one of our primary focuses. Clean air is a critical aspect of human health and, alongside other environmental factors, contributes to millions of Arizonans’ quality of life.