“I don’t know if people truly understand that the actions that they take on a daily basis are affecting the air that they take into our body,” said Beth Gorman, PDEQ senior program manager, who added that humans take in about 3,000 gallons of air a day.
“So whatever we can do to reduce the pollution that goes into the air is going to help all of us.”
Pima is one of two counties in Arizona that has problems with elevated ozone levels.
The other one is Maricopa, which has already gone into non-attainment status, or when they reach a level of ozone hazardous to health, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
ADEQ has standards on pollutants like ozone. Pima is at 69-parts-per-billion of ozone, slightly under the 70 ppb that violates EPA’s standards. Pima modeled its voucher program after Maricopa’s Mowing Down Pollution program to attempt to avoid reaching non-attainment status, Gorman said.
“We’re very close to violating the ground-level ozone standard … gasoline-powered lawn and gardening equipment puts out a lot of pollution that contributes to that air pollutant, ozone,” said Gorman, who added that health studies have shown that ozone is damaging to people’s lungs and their health.
Karen Wilhelmsen, PDEQ outreach and education manager, said certain populations are affected more by bad air quality, such as children, the elderly, people with health conditions, outdoor enthusiasts and especially landscapers who use gas-powered equipment.