'No burn' restrictions in effect for New Year's Day

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is issuing a High Pollution Advisory for New Year's Day.

ADEQ forecasters are expecting clearing skies, light winds and very cold temperatures through the Phoenix metropolitan area late Monday night, leading to poor or marginal dispersion through Tuesday morning.

Historically, wood-burning activities have led to high concentrations of smoke in the Phoenix area, increasing the probability that smoke will accumulate leading to high to unhealthy fine particle concentrations, according to ADEQ officials.

As a result, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department is enforcing the mandatory "No Burn Day" restriction for the county from midnight to midnight Tuesday. Residents and businesses must refrain from burning wood in fireplaces, wood stoves or outdoor fire pits during this 24-hour period. This restriction includes individuals and businesses who have burn permits for open burning.

"We understand how much people enjoy using their fireplaces, especially during a holiday. However, when so many do it and our weather is stagnant, the air becomes unhealthy," Maricopa County Air Quality Director Bill Wiley said. "That is why we call 'No Burn' days. Please do your part and not light a woodburning fire."

This High Pollution Advisory also includes the following restrictions:

• Contractors cannot use leaf blowers on governmental properties on HPA days.

• Hotels, restaurants and residents must refrain from burning wood in their indoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits during a HPA. Open burning is also restricted.

• Off-highway vehicles are prohibited from being used during a PM-10 HPA.

ADEQ recommends that children and adults with respiratory problems avoid outdoor activities on Tuesday and suggests the general public limit outdoor activity throughout the day.

Valley Metro requests employers activate their HPA Plan. Residents and employers are asked to use these tips to help make the air healthier to breathe:

• Eliminate wood burning in fireplaces, stoves, chimineas and outdoor fire pits.

• Drive as little as possible: carpool, use public transit or telecommute. For information on transportation alternatives, visit Valley Metro at www.valleymetro.org.

• Avoid using leaf blowers.

• Avoid activities that generate dust, such as driving on dirt roads.

To learn more about the air you're breathing, visit www.CleanAirMakeMore.com.

For details on this high pollution advisory for Maricopa County, visit the ADEQ website at www.Azdeq.Gov or call 602-771-2367 for recorded forecast information.