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About the Air Quality Program

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program, administered by the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, is authorized to implement and enforce clean air regulations within the boundaries of the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

Air Quality Program Logo 2021The Air Quality Program serves as the local agency partner to the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board. The Air Quality Program is committed to meeting all federal and state air quality standards and reducing motor vehicle pollution.

The Air Quality Program carries out the following duties:

Leadership

In 2020, Deputy Director Mara Elana Burstein joined the Environmental Health Department to oversee the Air Quality Program. Under her leadership, the Air Quality Program is increasing transparency, updating regulations, and improving community outreach to align with the City's greater equity initiative.

Local Air Quality

The most common pollutants of greatest concern in Albuquerque-Bernalillo County are ground-level ozone and particulate matter. Blowing dust and smoke from woodburning are major contributors to particulate matter. Vehicle pollution is a major contributor to ground-level ozone, and levels tend to rise during the warmer months of the year. As the state’s regional center for employment, higher education, retail commerce, and medical treatment, Albuquerque experiences non-local commuter traffic, which can lead to increased levels of ground-level ozone and particulate matter. Learn more about air quality monitoring and trends in local air quality.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.

View the current AQI for Albuquerque-Bernalillo County

Air Quality Standards

The Clean Air Act identifies six common air pollutants of concern called “criteria pollutants.” These are the only air pollutants with national air quality standards that define allowable concentrations of these substances in ambient air.

  1. Ground-level Ozone (O3)
  2. Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM5)
  3. Carbon monoxide (CO)
  4. Lead (Pb)
  5. Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  6. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

The EPA establishes health-based standards for each of these pollutants called the “National Ambient Air Quality Standards” (NAAQS). The Clean Air Act identifies two types of standards:

  • Primary standards provide public health protection, including protecting the health of sensitive populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly.
  • Secondary standards provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County area is in attainment of the NAAQS for all criteria pollutants. According to the EPA, ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in the United States. These are also the most significant air quality issues locally.

Read the Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act.

Health Impacts of Air Pollution

Air quality effects how we live and breathe. Research shows that air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter increase the amount and seriousness of lung and heart disease and other health problems. Children, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing heart and lung disease are at greater risk of adverse health impacts caused by air pollution.

Ozone can irritate your respiratory system, causing coughing, irritation in your throat or a burning sensation in your airways. It can reduce lung function, so that you may have feelings of chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Ozone can aggravate asthma and trigger asthma attacks. People at greater risk from ground-level ozone are people with lung diseases, such as asthma, older adults and children and adults who are active outdoors.

Particulate matter is composed of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. When exposed to these small particles, people with heart or lung diseases and older adults are more at risk of hospital and emergency room visits or, in some cases, even death from heart or lung disease. Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particles. Symptoms may include: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest tightness; and shortness of breath. People at greatest risk from particle pollution are those with heart or lung disease, older adults (possibly because they may have undiagnosed heart or lung disease), and children.

People who are at higher risk for respiratory issues from air pollution are also more susceptible to infection and severe health consequences from COVID-19. Exposure to air pollutants can aggravate severity of COVID-19 symptoms, and infection with COVID-19 can increase health impacts from pollution exposure.

The EPA is continuously carrying out epidemiological, human observational, and basic toxicological research to better understand the health effects of air pollution.

Health Alerts

The Air Quality Program issues health alerts if ambient air conditions may adversely affect individuals with respiratory conditions. Health Alerts are typically issued because of elevated levels of dust or smoke.

Sign up for Air Quality Alerts

Receive Real-Time Emergency Health Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Text “ABQHEALTH” for alerts in English or “ABQSALUD” for alerts in Spanish to 226787 from your mobile phone. You will receive a welcome message and instructions to start or stop messages at any time. Mobile alerts are intended for general health alerts that may affect the entire community, at a high-priority level. Mobile alerts are issued for:

  • High levels of air pollutants, including smoke, blowing dust, and ozone
  • Food safety recalls or alerts
  • Hazardous material discharges
  • Important infectious disease developments

Get Involved

Report an Air Quality Concern or Violation

The Air Quality Program takes compliance violations seriously and follows up on each complaint. We appreciate the support we receive from residents and count on your participation to help maintain good air quality in Bernalillo County. Report anyone violating air quality or dust control standards to 311.