"Air quality monitoring needed throughout Yuma area" by Natalia Cachora, MDP student

Feb. 10, 2020

The Southern Colorado River connects the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Reservation, Winterhaven, California, and Yuma, Arizona. Throughout most of the year, this is a wonderful place to visit. The water is cool, the temperature is pleasant, and the air appears to be clear. However, with Interstate 8, agricultural fields, and the Yuma Proving Ground, a silent predator drifts across the air. At times we can see it, sometimes we can even feel it, as though someone is squeezing the breath right out of you. I’m talking about poor air quality.

According to Arizona Public Health and the American Lung Association, the third leading cause of death in Arizona is Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD). 13% of Arizona adults have asthma, 10.9% of Arizona children have asthma, and 5.3% of Arizonans have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). A major cause of breathing problems is the particulate matter (PM) in the air.

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PM is “a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air.” Sometimes it can be seen like a dust devil wafting across a dry field. Other times, particles are so tiny they can’t be seen at all.

The American Lung Association ranks Yuma 43 out of 217 metropolitan areas for having poor air quality; Yuma County also gets an F for ground ozone. Even though the City of Yuma has five air monitoring sites and Winterhaven has one, there is no monitoring site for the Fort Yuma Reservation.

However, a monitoring station is essential for the tribe so that it can alert community members about when air pollutants are dangerously high.

Air quality affects everyone and every area, including the more vulnerable communities. The community of the Fort Yuma Reservation deserves an air monitoring station to help keep residents aware of air quality.

The Greater Yuma area should join their voices to call for additional monitoring sites.

Natalia Cachora
Letter to the Editor, Published in The Yuma Sun, February 8, 2020