Air Quality In The Phoenix Desert


Phoenix Arizona Pollution

Arizona’s Dirty Secret – It’s Air

According to the American Lung Association, the Phoenix area is ranked #3 in the nation for “The Most Polluted Cities” list (2011) for year-round particle pollution. Coming in #4 was Los Angeles. I find it amazing a city which is famous for its pollution has slightly cleaner air than Phoenix. We got a big, fat “F” from the American Lung Association for air quality.

What Is Particle Pollution?

The EPA defines particle pollution as “a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in air. This pollution, also known as particulate matter, is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen or mold spores)”. Sounds nasty, right? Besides the unsightly brown cloud that hovers over Phoenix, it is also bad for your health. The ever-present particle pollution in Phoenix can cause respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

With the health hazards in the air, I find it surprising people choose to retire here.

What Else Is In The Air?

Besides the basic particle pollution, there are other dangers floating around in the air we breathe here.

Is It Really THAT Polluted All The Time In Phoenix??

Well, check out this chart. Out of 366 days measuring air quality in Phoenix, there were only 70 days of good air quality and 84 days of unhealthy air quality. If your health is sensitive to air quality, one-third of your year will be spent in misery with 100 days of poor air quality for these poor souls.

“The Phoenix, AZ air quality index is a median value which considers the most hazardous air pollutants. The Phoenix, AZ air quality index is 56.9% greater than the Arizona average and 172.9% greater than the national average.”

My Thoughts

It’s very depressing to go outside in the morning to be welcomed by a brown cloud hovering over us. We are surrounded by mountains, which leaves no escape for the pollution. You would think a storm blowing through would clear it up, but it actually makes it worse. The dirt here is the same consistency as talcum powder, and any wind makes visibility low and breathing difficult.

I enjoy running for exercise, and I can literally feel the difference when the air quality is poor. It’s almost as if I’m at a higher altitude and I am not getting as much oxygen as normal. I’m a healthy adult male, I can only imagine how the elderly deal with it.

The Phoenix area continues to grow, more people move in and the pollution continually gets worse. I’ve been here 11 years (too long), and I’ve seen it get worse while living here.

Congratulations, Los Angeles, you’re not the dirtiest city anymore.

Be sure to read more about another Arizona air pollutant, Valley Fever.

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4 thoughts on “Air Quality In The Phoenix Desert

  1. Jordan Randall says:

    I have been here almost 3 months now. I’m new to retirement and decided to rent a house for a year to try this locale out for retirement. Well I have been sick with respitory type problems, both sinus and Asthma since shortly after arriving here.. I have already decided when the lease is up (Thankfully I had enough sense to rent first) I’m out of here. I agree this is a ridiculous area to retire to. Filthy air and allergens. Of course with all the cars here and the lack of enough intelligence to add proper transit here. All these people are in cars contributing to all this small. Really this is one stupid arrogant population, to allow this filthy air and contribute to it as is done here. For anyone that has or starts developing this type of problem. I recommend look for another location to live. The area just doesn’t hold enough meaning to me to put myself thru this. So no way I would put myself thru this in retirement years. When the time comes. Good RIddance Phoenix, Arizona

    • No Arizona says:

      My retirement dream is a lake home with a boat dock! The city life of the Phoenix area isn’t for me, even prior to retirement. I hope to be gone within the next year or so.

  2. TheTram says:

    Retirement in Arizona is alright if you go to a smaller town up North. Like Heber, Overgaurd type atmosphere.

  3. Arizona as a whole doesn’t have this problem. There are lovely and beautiful clean air cities in northern Arizona such as Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, etc.. right now I live in the dust bowl valley but will definitely head north when I retire. Can’t wait.

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