PHOENIX - You will be hearing a lot more hacking and coughing this winter as we transition from a wet El Nino to a La Nina weather pattern this winter, meaning a drier and warmer season complete with more pollution.
Ken Waters from the National Weather Service in Phoenix explained what we can expect with this La Nina weather.
"A higher chance of stagnant weather conditions exist with La Nina because we don't get the rains or vigorous cold fronts moving through. This might have an impact on air quality because the air never mixes out," he said.
The cold morning forces a lot of people to heat their homes with wood-burning fireplaces. Stagnant weather leaves the cold air at the surface and warm air aloft so all the bad air from burning wood sits near the Valley floor for us to breath. This is called an inversion layer as the cold air at the surface remains at the surface.
"You can look out at any vantage point in the Valley and see that haze hanging around our Valley skyline and we contribute that to wood burning and some vehicles as well," says Holly Ward from the Maricopa County Air Quality Department .
The EPA is looking at lowering the standards for PM10 and PM2.5 pollution levels. PM2.5, which is much smaller, gets deeper into your lungs, affecting not only your health but also your pocket book. If the Valley doesn't meet these new EPA standards, the federal government will take action by cutting off all funding for roadway and street construction.
It's vital that we all do our part when a no burn day is announced, but we should also start making changes to ways that you heat your house now. A gas powered fire place or fire pit is a wonderful solution to our pollution problem when it comes to PM2.5.
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