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Southwest air quality benefits from stay-at-home orders

Framed by saguaro cactus, the downtown Phoenix skyline is easier to see, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, as fewer motorists in Arizona are driving, following the state stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus, and it appears to be improving the air quality and decreasing the effects vehicle emissions have on the environment. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Framed by saguaro cactus, the downtown Phoenix skyline is easier to see, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, as fewer motorists in Arizona are driving, following the state stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus, and it appears to be improving the air quality and decreasing the effects vehicle emissions have on the environment. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Fewer motorists in Arizona and Nevada following the states’ stay-at-home orders appears to be improving the air quality and decreasing the effects vehicle emissions have on the environment.

Both states released their reports Monday after at least a week under the states’ respective stay-at-home orders.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential businesses to close on March 20 and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey followed suit implementing his stay-at-home order on March 31.

“Our ozone is lower, that is what we expected with less traffic and emissions out of vehicles,” Arizona Department of Environmental Quality meteorologist Matt Pace told KTVK-TV Monday.

Department officials have reported a 37% decrease in nitrogen oxides between March 16 and March 22 compared to last year.

In Nevada, the Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability reported a 33% decrease in small particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide from March 17-23 compared with March 1-16, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are pollutants that contribute to smog and poor air quality and are emitted from the transportation sector, including cars, trucks, commercial aircraft and railroads, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said.

More study is required to determine how much the reduced vehicle traffic is contributing to better air quality, environmental officials said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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