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2021 starts with record-breaking air pollution for the Valley

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jan 01, 2021

PHOENIX — If you went outside Friday, chances are you have seen how hazy the air is.

According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the air quality is so bad that it has reached near hazardous levels.

The situation caused the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to tweet about how it could end up setting a record for the worst air quality on New Year’s Day since they started keeping record in 2011.

“This is getting normal which is very scary but what’s also really scary is that we don’t see anything proactive,” said Masavi Perea, the Director of Coalition and Training for CHISPA Arizona, an environmental organization.

Masavi says fireworks are much of the cause of today’s problems but says it’s not the only issue and we’ve been ignoring other factors for years.

“One is that in the City of Phoenix or Maricopa County there’s not a culture of walking. One of the reasons is because of public transportation, we don’t have good parks and all these systems that other cities have,” expressed Masavi.

So, what about fireworks? should we start paying more attention to the impact the holiday tradition can have on the air we breathe?

“In comparison with other cities, fireworks are not a big tradition here, yes we play with fireworks but it’s not super big,” said Masavi.

“I have never heard such big fireworks, the big ones. It was pretty wild,” expressed Jason Wilson while hiking this morning.

Wilson says he has asthma and felt the effects of the smoke.

So, what can we do to prevent air pollution this new year?

“We need to be more proactive, to use less cars,” said Masavi.

Masavi says he worries about the impact poor air quality can have in underserved communities such as South Phoenix and Maryvale.

“The asthma rates go higher every time.”

New Year’s Eve was a no burn day in the Valley meaning we should have avoided burning wood in a fireplace, firepit, chiminea, and lighting fireworks.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a high pollution advisory through Jan. 2.

They recommend limiting time outdoors, to learn more about their recommendations CLICK HERE.