The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) recently issued a public-service video warning about the dangers of breathing in smoke from wood-burning fireplaces, fire pits and fireworks, especially on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The PDEQ team made the video after a review of last year’s air-quality monitoring data indicated that the highest levels of fine particulate matter occurred around midnight on New Year’s Eve. There was a significant spike at midnight compared to early afternoon levels on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with midnight levels 10 times higher than the lowest afternoon levels and exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
“These higher levels of pollutants are likely due to fireplace or backyard fires and perhaps even smoke from fireworks,” Beth Gorman, PDEQ senior program manager, said. “People who are sensitive to smoke can experience health effects if smoke levels are high.” Coughing, wheezing, chest pain, headaches, high blood pressure and heart issues are some of the problems that can occur for those sensitive to the particulates in smoke.
The video encourages people to avoid using fireworks or starting recreational fires for New Year's Eve. It also says that if a fire is planned, use seasoned hardwoods such as oak or mesquite that burn hotter and cleaner than soft woods such as fir or pine.
PDEQ also reminds everyone not to burn trash, plastic, plywood or woods that are painted or pressure treated. It also suggests checking the air-pollution level before deciding to start a fire. Information on air pollution is available at www.pima.gov/deq.