Dust storm could make air unhealthy for parts of Arizona Monday

Officials issued Air Quality Alerts, Blowing Dust Advisories and High Wind Alerts for areas across Arizona, Nevada and California.

A High Pollution Advisory in effect for areas of Arizona Monday including the Phoenix Metro Area and Tuscon. Strong winds will stir dust into the air and not only create dust storms with near-zero visibility but also impact health. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issued the PM-10 High Pollution Advisory.

PM-10 is an inhalable, course particulate matter, 10 micrometers and smaller – 20% the width of a human hair.  At high concentrations, above the EPA guidelines, air becomes unhealthy for sensitive individuals to breathe. 

 The air contaminant, "can aggravate heart and lung disease conditions, especially in older adults, children and those with asthma," states the alert

PM-10 and smaller particles can travel deep into lungs, even enter the bloodstream.

High pressure pushing east set up the Grand Canyon state with winds blowing 15-25 mph, gusting higher, which created pockets of moderate air quality for only a few areas due to blowing dust on Sunday. Stronger winds are forecast Monday of 20-30 mph gusting to 40 mph. 

Look at the dust on this horizon of this DOT camera already.

Much of the Southwestern U.S. is in for strong and gusty winds. "There will be a risk of long-range transport of blowing dust into the region from areas west/southwest of the Valley," wrote ADEQ. "The locally produced blowing dust combined with dust transported into the region is forecast to be enough to result in PM-10 rising into the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups AQI category."


Reduce physical activity especially during the afternoon and evening when levels will be at their peaks recommends the NWS. They also suggest consolidating travel, slowing down or avoiding dirt roads, avoid using the fireplace, and don’t use gas-powered lawn equipment. 

Winds will calm a bit Tuesday.

The Phoenix area ranks eighth for worst annual particle pollution out of the 199 cities the American Lung Association surveyed.  They gave Phoenix’s Maricopa County an F for 24-hour particle pollution largely for wind-borne dust events like this one. 

Go to your local FOX Weather forecast on the mobile app to check your AQI and check out AirNow.gov for an air quality forecast.