PHOENIX (AP) - Maricopa County has ordered restrictions that include a prohibition on burning wood in residential fireplaces and in outdoor fire pits and chimneys after state environmental regulators extended a high pollution advisory through Dec. 26 due to elevated levels of soot in the air.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recommended that the general public limited outdoor activity while the advisory was in effect, especially people with respiratory problems.
The county Air Quality Department said its "No Burn Day" declaration on Dec. 24 banning the burning of wood outdoors also applies to hotels, restaurants and holders of permits for open burning.
The department said the declaration also prohibits use of off-road vehicles and use of leaf blowers on government properties.
According to the department, people with heart or lung diseases, older adults, and children are most likely to be affected by particle pollution due to effects on the respiratory tract.
Short-term health effects can include eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath, and exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, the department said.