As of right now, Colorado’s northern Front Range region’s air quality is pretty good. We’ve had no out-of-control wildfires, yet, and there’s no haze of smog darkening Denver and Boulder. However, what gets into the air we breathe can change, and fast.
Traditionally, our air quality has been so bad that, in April of this year, the EPA proposed downgrading the air quality rating for the nine-county Front Range region from “serious” to “severe.” (They’ll make a decision sometime this fall on whether or not to follow through with a downgrade.)
Here are five things to know about CO Front Range air quality:
1.) Poor air quality threatens the health of all living, breathing beings: Animals, plantlife, the overall environment, and humans. “Smog pollution is a serious threat to public health, increasing the likelihood of respiratory infections, asthma attacks, and hospital visits,” said Michael S. Ragan, Administrator of the EPA, at the time of April’s reclassification announcement. Learn more about pollution’s impact on our health from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences here.
2.) Air quality is degraded by ground-level ozone emissions from fossil fuel-burning vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions generated mostly by the fossil-fuel energy industry, and smoke and ash from wildfires. Read up on the ground-level ozone basics from the EPA here.
3.) Front Range smog worsens during summer. Consider using different modes of travel and commuting such as biking and public transportation. The fewer cars you put on roads means fewer harmful emissions from gas & diesel-powered vehicles. Commuting Solutions offers many alternative transportation suggestions and guidelines on our website.
4.) Wildfires can be mitigated. Wildfires don’t just destroy property and threaten livelihoods. The ash and harmful particles generated by fire storms can travel many miles and shroud even big cities in unhealthy ash and soot. The Red Cross has tips for preventing wildfires here.
5.) Monitor the real-time quality of Colorado air where you are by using the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Monitoring Sites Map Air Quality Index.
There’s more information about CO air quality and sustainable transportation on the Commuting Solutions website. Also, sign up soon for “Clear the Air,” the 6th Sustainable Transportation Summit, on July 28. We hope to see you there!