Is Phoenix-Area Air Cleaner When More Of Us Work From Home? It's Complicated

Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:05pm
Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 9:40am

The coronavirus has kept Americans off the freeways and in their homes. In some places, that has led to cleaner air. But it’s more complicated in the Phoenix area.

On Monday, ozone exceeded the federal health standard for the first time in about a month, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. 

Although driving less is good for Valley air quality, a number of other things factor in. 

They include blowing dust, wildfire, heat and lack of wind. 

“And you also do just have the unique weather pattern you have here, especially during the summer months, when that high pressure moves directly over Arizona, and you know, super calm winds, so, the pollutants even if they are reduced they continue to build up in the Valley. So that’s why we still encourage people to drive as little as possible, refuel after dark,” said Matt Pace, a meteorologist with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Pace said it can also help to avoid idling in drive-through lines at night.

“You know, try to avoid idling when you’re in the drive-through lines or waiting for food at a restaurant. So there’s still a lot of issues that we have out there that can contribute to the ozone high pollution advisory,” he said. 

Phoenix is expected to battle high ozone levels through the week, as temperatures remain above 110 degrees.

Pace said the department hopes to learn more as Valley residents continue to work at home. 

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