Long range forecasts for the upcoming winter calls for drier and warmer conditions than would be considered normal which places Maricopa County at a higher risk for poor air quality and further exceedances of the PM-10 standard. We, as a community, can’t afford the consequences of bad air quality, which includes increased hospital visits, lost work days due to health effects and the potential for higher regulatory burdens. Here is what you can do:
- Eliminate wood burning in fireplaces, stoves, chimineas and outdoor fire pits.
- Avoid activities that produce smoke or exhaust.
- Limit strenuous outdoor activities.
- Reduce driving or combine trips. Ride the bus, light rail, or carpool, if possible.
They might make that landscaping job easier, but leaf blowers and gas-powered lawn and garden equipment can raise large amounts of dust and should be used sparingly. The best alternatives are to use a rake or broom.
State law requires property owners to control dust on their property. That includes banning “the blowing of landscape debris into public roadways at any time by any person.” Local laws also ban the use of leaf blowers on dirt fields, road shoulders, or loose dirt, and advise limited use of leaf blowers on high pollution advisory days. To find out if there is an advisory, call (602) 771-2367, or visit www.CleanAirMakeMore.com.
For your reference, please visit the Maricopa County Air Quality Department’s leaf blower web page or download the Leaf Blower Use brochure from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
ATVs and Off Highway Vehicles
Riding all terrain vehicles, off-highway vehicles, dirt bikes or go-carts can make for fun family activities, but it is important that you know all applicable laws and ride in designated areas only. Riding ATVs or other off-road vehicles within the urban area — such as in vacant lots or riverbeds — is not only illegal in most cases, it can raise huge amounts of dust, creating significant health risks and causing air quality violations. Riders who violate the law not only are subject to fines and penalties, they risk the physical and economic health of the rest of the 3.8 million residents of this region.
Riding is prohibited on High Pollution Advisory (HPA) days in most of Maricopa County. Motor vehicle use on unpaved surfaces is restricted in Maricopa County. Before driving, riding, or parking on any land, check with the appropriate agency, such as your city and town, about the rules and requirements. Remember, you may be subject to fines and penalties if you violate these rules.
For more information on laws regarding off-highway vehicle use, safety tips, obtaining permits, or to find great places you can ride, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s website at http://azstateparks.com/OHV/index.html.
Don’t Drive on Dirt
Driving on dirt can kick up large clouds of dust that can spread out over large areas. The best rule of thumb is to avoid driving on dirt. If you must drive on dirt, drive slowly.
Recently, unsupervised vacant lots have become a significant source of concern in our region. State law requires cities, towns and Maricopa County to prohibit parking or driving on non-dustproof surfaces such as vacant lots. Individuals and property owners are required to park vehicles on stabilized surfaces or those that have undergone approved dustproof paving methods. (Approved methods include: asphaltic concrete, cement concrete, and “penetration treatment of bituminous material and seal coat of bituminous binder and a mineral aggregate,” or other stabilization methods approved by the city or town.) For your reference, click here to access Maricopa County P-27 – Vehicle Parking and Use on Unstabilized Vacant Lots Ordinance.
Serious dust offenders can be reported to the Maricopa County Air Quality Department at 602-372-2703 or on the web via this link.
Keep in mind: The dust we raise, is the dust we breathe!
Woodburning and Fireplace Use
The burning of wood either in a fireplace or a stove can be relaxing and enjoyable on a cold winter night, but should only be enjoyed on days not designated as a No Burn Day. No Burn Days are designated by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department and are dependent on the level of pollution in the air. They are typically issued when a High Pollution Advisory is in effect. Mandatory No Burn Day restrictions prohibit all fireplace, woodstove and outdoor burning devices, such as chimineas, outdoor fire pits, and similar outdoor fires. This ban applies to manufactured logs as well as wood. For more information, please follow this link to the County’s P-26 — Residential Woodburning Restriction Ordinance.
You can do your part by monitoring pollution advisories through the Clean Air Make More website. For more information on No Burn Days visit the Maricopa County Air Quality Department’s No Burn Days Information and Resources page.
Dust Control at a Construction Site
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department has created a dust abatement guide to assist construction teams in developing plans that will help them mitigate dust pollution, as the county actively enforces and monitors construction sites to ensure they are complying with the outlined requirements. For your reference, the guide is available at this link.