A proposal by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to end air quality monitoring in Nogales and Agua Prieta, Sonora and to reduce monitoring of very fine particulate pollution in their Arizona sister cities was eliminated in August. "It was a draft proposal and was nixed by ADEQ Director Steve Owen," said ADEQ communications director Mark Shaffer.
In "ambos" Nogales, Sonora-Arizona, monitoring and studies of a number of air pollutants on both sides of the border, were initially implemented because of concerns over mid-90s cancer and lupus clusters. Money and attention diminished and binational particulate monitoring remained.
Similar concerns over Douglas-Agua Prieta air from open burning resulted in hazardous air pollutant studies of maquiladoras (twin-plants), burning dumps, and industrial and mobile sources of pollution that scaled back to particulate monitoring.
Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Maynard said Wednesday, "This is good news. It is through long term monitoring,...for decades, that we can begin to learn about patterns. Monitoring air quality in Nogales over the long term is critical to implementing a plan for improvement. Without the data we have no way of knowing if our efforts are succeeding."