Phoenix Air Quality Ranked Among Worst In Nation

April 30, 2014

(Photo by Maricopa County Air Quality Department)
Maricopa County portable air quality monitor

The air quality in Phoenix is worse than it was last year. That’s according to a new report released by the American Lung Association. The organization ranks the city’s air as the eighth most polluted in the nation for particle emissions.

The ALA’s State of the Air report paints a dirty picture for the city of Phoenix showing an increase in smog and soot levels.

But Eric Massey, the director of the air quality division at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said those results are somewhat misleading.

"The long and short of it is that the sky is not falling, air quality is actually better than the report makes it out to be," said Massey. 

The data averaged the air quality readings taken from 2010 to 2012. According to Massey, weather patterns at that time played a large role in the worsening quality, including drought, warmer temperatures, and more frequent dust storms.  

"There are some things that we’re trying to look at and say we can do better," he said. "Certainly there’s opportunities to lower air pollution. We’ve tried to engage in a lot of those activities here as a department."

Massey adds that state data from 2013 suggest improving air quality levels in the city.

Phoenix mother Karina Ponce was outside at a Phoenix park with her daughter Wednesday afternoon. While she did not know about the new report, air quality is something she’s concerned about.

"The past few days have been really bad," she said. "My kid has been sick. And it’s because of the weather and the pollution too."

Other cities in Arizona appeared on the opposite end of the ALA rankings, with Prescott and Flagstaff ranking among the top 10 cleanest cities for year-round soot levels.