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Phoenix’s Declining Air Quality Makes Our Advocacy More Urgent Than Ever

Phoenix’s Declining Air Quality Makes Our Advocacy More Urgent Than Ever

The American Lung Association released its annual “State of the Air” report  ranking U.S. cities with the poorest air quality. Alarmingly, Phoenix is ranked #5 for ozone pollution, #8 for year-round particle pollution, and #13 for short-term particle pollution. The city moved up two spots in the ozone category from last year’s rankings.

Why Should We Pay Attention to Ozone and Particle Pollution Levels?

Ozone is created when nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds, such as that created by fossil fuels, interact with heat and sunlight. According to the association, ozone is a powerful lung irritant, causing inflammation and other damage. Exposure to high rates of ozone can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, asthma rates among children, and allergic response.

Particle pollution is a combination of liquid and solid particulate matter in the air we breathe. Many of these particles are invisible to the naked eye, but when pollution levels are high, it may appear as haze. Particle pollution 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.

We’re Fighting for Clean Air for All Arizonans

We persistently advocate for clean air, pushing both state and federal agencies to adhere to clean-air standards designed to protect the state’s residents, including the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic only emphasized clean air’s pivotal role in healthy communities.

Most recently, we approved a settlement of our lawsuit against the EPA to address severe particulate air pollution in West Pinal County. As a result, the State must now submit a plan that contains the “best available control measures” to bring the county into compliance. The Center filed suit on behalf of the Sierra Club in April 2020 because the Environmental Protection Agency failed to approve or disapprove Arizona’s plan to address particulate air pollution.

See the American Lung Association’s full findings here.