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Ozone Pollution Drops With Fewer Cars On Arizona Roads


Reduced traffic on the roads during the coronavirus pandemic has led to improvements in Arizona’s air quality. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Ground-level ozone decreased by 10 percent compared to this time last year. It’s a pollutant that can trigger health problems especially in people with asthma or other lung diseases.  

Misael Cabrera is the director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. He says the decreased traffic combined with rainy weather contributed to the improvement. "We are learning as a state how to tele-commute more than we have in the past, and I think we need to carry those lessons forward, because even though… the ozone difference may be modest, every little bit counts in terms of meeting federal standards and maintaining the healthiest possible air," he says.

A report released this week by the American Lung Association named the Phoenix metro air as seventh in the nation for the worst air quality, both for ozone and for year round particle pollution.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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