Maricopa County to watch for illegal burning during high-pollution period

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Authorities with the Maricopa County Dept. of Air Quality say the amount of smoke in the air could reach unhealthy levels by New Year’s Day. 

Officials are now putting together teams of inspectors to watch for residents and businesses violating no-burn rules which start Saturday.

“I know a lot of people like using a fireplace around the holidays, but think about what you're doing to your neighbors, to your neighbor’s kids, the kids who have asthma, the elderly neighbor or family member that has respiratory issues,” says Bob Huhn, spokesman for Maricopa County Air Quality.

County officials say the smoke is building up and there’s no wind to push it out of the Valley. Those caught illegally burning could face fines up to $250.

The high soot levels can also have health consequences.

“This is one of those holidays where people want to be spending time outside and they want to be running, and hiking especially with the New Years holiday and resolutions,” says Dr. Neal Jain. 

“The weather’s so nice, we have all these visitors from out of town and they may not realize the particulate matter, and pollution levels are so high here.”

Dr. Jain is an allergist-immunologist.  He says exposure can lead to coughing and wheezing, but more importantly, the pollution can cause long-term damage to organs.

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