Report: Mixed Grades For Front Range Air Quality

F Grades For Ozone Pollution In Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer Counties

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2012 report finds that Denver metro area and northern Front Range counties received mixed grades for smog and soot, compared to last year's air quality report.

Link: Check the air quality where you live.

"State of the Air shows that we're making steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air as a result of cleanup efforts required under the Clean Air Act," said Natalia Swalnick, director of environmental health for the American Lung Association in Colorado.

"But millions of Americans across the country, including those in Colorado, are still forced to breathe unhealthy levels of air pollution as a result of air quality standards that are outdated," she added.

Smog, or ozone, remains the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources.

When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs like a bad sunburn, the association said. It can cause immediate health problems and continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

When comparing the 2012 State of the Air Report to last year’s grades for ozone pollution:

  • Adams County’s grade improved from a D to a C.
  • Arapahoe County’s grade did not change from a C.
  • Boulder County’s grade improved from an F to a D.
  • Denver County’s grade improved from a C to a B.
  • Douglas County’s grade did not change from an F.
  • Jefferson County’s grade did not change from an F.
  • Larimer County’s grade did not change from an F.
  • Weld County’s grade did not change from a C.

"Particle pollution can be deadly," Swalnick said, referring to soot in the air. "When you breathe particle pollution, you are inhaling a toxic mix of chemicals, metals, aerosols, ash and diesel exhaust. It can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, emergency room visits and even premature death. There is absolutely no question regarding the need to protect public health from particle pollution."

When comparing the 2012 State of the Air Report to last year’s grades for 24-hour particulate pollution:

  • Adams County’s grade improved from a C to an A.
  • Arapahoe County’s grade improved from a B to an A.
  • Boulder County’s grade did not change from a B.
  • Denver County’s grade improved from a C to an A.
  • Douglas County’s grade improved from a B to an A.
  • Larimer County’s grade did not change from an A.
  • Weld County’s grade improved from a C to a B.

Fort Collins-Loveland tied for 12th among the country's cleanest cities for short-term particulate pollution. All counties in Colorado passed for annual levels of particulate pollution.

"The Denver metro area has significantly reduced ozone pollution levels in recent years thanks to the commitment of industry, local governments and individual citizens to produce less ozone-causing emissions," said Ken Lloyd, executive director of the Regional Air Quality Council. "However, an increased effort will be required to continue to improve our air and to meet current and upcoming standards. There is something that everyone can do to contribute."

This year's report details the trend that standards set under the Clean Air Act to clean up major air pollution sources -- including coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and sport utility vehicles -- are working to drastically cut ozone and particle pollution from the air, the association said.

However, the association stressed that more than 40 percent of people in the United States live in areas where air pollution continues to threaten their health.

Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, people with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and those who work or exercise outdoors.

Print this article Back to Top