Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Oct. 22

Editorial: October burns will test officials, air quality

They are called smartphones. From time to time, when you call up the weather app, it gives all of the information you want.

Highs and lows. Sunrise, sunset. Wind, rain.

Sometimes it gives more — a message about bad weather for allergy sufferers. This generally accompanies a windy day. We get it.

Still, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality regularly issues ozone alerts for the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix). This is when the ozone levels are high, mostly due to motor vehicles, chemical plants, refineries, factories and other industrial sources.

It’s called smog, which is limited to the Phoenix area.

For Prescott, ADEQ’s ozone monitor, along with agencies measuring smoke from wildfires, is a little different. They watch how smoke builds overnight and burns off during the day.

News this week that prescribed burns in the area generally south of Prescott this month will test officials’ burning abilities. As the temperatures drop this month, the chance for inversion effects increase. This is when cooler nighttime temperatures trap smoke at ground level.

The way forest officials and fire crews conduct the burns can alleviate most of this, such as burning earlier in the day.

Wildfires are a big concern locally, ahead of most other worries. Smoke is a concern too for many who are sensitive to it.

Leslie Horton of Yavapai County Community Health Services says: “As long as you can still see things that are 5 to 10 miles away, you can be reasonably sure you won’t have a medical emergency caused by smoke inhalation.”

Still, if you start to feel sick or faint, contact your doctor immediately.

The good news is Yavapai County is meeting all federal air quality standards, and ADEQ does not need to monitor particulates, said Erin Jordan, public information officer for Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

“In the winter, the haze comes from an inversion in the atmosphere. The smoke would build up,” Jordan said, “but may not trigger a health watch.”

First line of defense is to stay inside for a while and run the air conditioner.

For more information, visit these air quality websites:

https://air-quality.com/place/united-states/prescott/b93fb6ee?lang=en&standard=aqi_us

https://www.wunderground.com/health/us/az/prescott/86301

Be wary out there. Be safe. Be smart.

— The Daily Courier

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