Phoenix among top 10 cities on annual air pollution list

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The wind picked up enough dust to obscure mountains in the distance from view, as seen from Highway 347 between I-10 and Maricopa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The wind picked up enough dust to obscure mountains in the distance from view, as seen from Highway 347 between I-10 and Maricopa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

You can definitely say the blowing dust on Thursday made for unhealthy breathing in the Phoenix area. The brown, fierce takeover of dirt that covered mountains from view along Highway 347 came just a day after the American Lung Association released its annual list of worst-polluted cities in the country.

Phoenix came in at #8 on the list.

Program director Stacey Mortenson says both ozone pollution and particle pollution play a role in the rankings, which are based on the number of unhealthy breathing days a city had over the past year.

“Your body’s defense system will maybe cough or sneeze out a larger particle. But when you get these tiny particles that are floating in the air, they can actually go past your body’s defense system and lodge into your lungs,” Mortenson said.

Thursday’s dust event was something through which people with respiratory problems might want to wear a mask.

“I’ve had to see the doctor twice like to get a different type of inhaler because of the dust,” a woman told us in a Bashas’ parking lot in Maricopa.

The ALA’s ranking of a polluted city does not reflect the amount of work an area is doing to fight pollution, however. The number of unhealthy breathing days in Phoenix has been going down each of the last few years.

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