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Fire Free Friday: A Lesson in How to Reduce Air Pollution

Winter brings a lot of hustle and bustle to the Valley of the Sun. Temperatures drop below 100 degrees and people spend more time outdoors, visitors come from colder climates, and holidays inspire many to get into the spirit of the season with family and friends. What many don’t realize, though, is that the change in weather also means a change in air pollution. Residents need to be aware of this change, and take action to help improve the quality of our air.

Oct. 1 marked the beginning of winter pollution season in Maricopa County, including Phoenix. Air pollution levels are on the rise and weather conditions create dry, stagnant conditions. To protect residents and visitors, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department issues “No Burn Day” advisories when the air quality forecast suggests air quality will approach or exceed the federal health standard. Making an effort to reduce burning throughout the winter pollution season is an easy, impactful way to actively participate in improving air quality – and can be done anytime, regardless of whether there is a No Burn Day advisory issued.

As part of the new Commit to One Day initiative, Maricopa County residents are encouraged to commit to clean air one day a week through easy lifestyle choices. On Fridays, residents can participate in Fire Free Friday, avoiding woodburning in fireplaces and chimineas. If gathering around a glowing fire is an activity you don’t want to give up, consider some great alternatives that still gather family and friends for quality time together.

  • Friday Family Move Night —

Turn the thermostat down, grab some blankets and pop in a DVD for the whole family to watch. With everyone in the household gathered in one place, only one room needs to have lighting, decreasing energy usage throughout the entire home. Staying at home instead of going to the movies saves gas money, too.

  • Bike or Hike —

Enjoy the beautiful desert landscape the great state of Arizona has to offer and bike or hike with family or friends. Carpool to a trail, bring plenty of water and protective gear, and get some exercise.

  • Stargazing —

Breathe in fresh air that’s not polluted by smoke and brush up on your astronomy with family or friends. Whether in your backyard or at a park, all it takes is a blanket and a fellow stargazer to appreciate the night sky.

Fire Free Friday is just one way to commit to clean air. Participate seven days a week with Cycle Sunday, Alt Mode Monday, Ride Together Tuesday, Walk Somewhere Wednesday, No Drive-Thru Thursday, Fire Free Friday and Sweep it up Saturday. Learn more about the Commit to One Day initiative at www.cleanairmakemore.com and download the Clean Air Make More app to stay up-to-date on No Burn Day advisories and other important air quality information. Connect with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department on Facebook and Twitter.