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'One of our worst years': Denver children's doctor recommends at-risk kids avoid poor air quality

air quality sloans lake.jpg
Posted at 7:42 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 23:05:51-04

DENVER — Friday marked yet another day of poor air quality along the Front Range.

While it's not keeping everyone inside, it is limiting how often and how long some are staying outside.

"It's definitely been worse than previous weeks," tennis player Jacob Townsand said. "We've still gone outside, my sister and I, to play some tennis, but not as consistently as previous summers because of how bad the air quality has been."

Even healthy people, like Townsand, are feeling the effects of breathing in the bad air.

"A couple of weeks ago, I went for a run outside and I had a headache afterward. And that day, specifically, the air quality was pretty intense, pretty bad," he said.

But the most vulnerable are those in sensitive groups, like those living with asthma, for example, especially children.

"With little kids and their little lungs, you never really know what's safe and what's not," Lauryn Stasiak said.

The nanny of two 4-year-old girls wasn't sure at first what the haze hiding our skyline and mountains was all about.

"I thought it was just fog., but then when I found out it was smoke. I was kind of taken aback, and I was like, 'OK, this is a little gross,'" Stasiak said.

That smoke, coupled with high ozone levels, is what's causing concern.

Dr. Karen Woolf, an emergency room pediatrician for Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, says times like these can be a problem for so many kids.

"This is definitely one of our worst years," she said. "Certainly every summer when the air quality is poor, we do see an uptick in asthma exacerbations and trips to the ER for wheezing and trouble with asthma."

Your best bet, especially if you're in these sensitive groups, is to limit your time outside.

It's important to note, however, the difference between, for example, symptoms of asthma and COVID-19, Dr. Woolf said. Asthma usually carries coughing and shortness of breath. You should consider consulting a doctor if you develop a fever and a runny nose in addition to those asthma symptoms as that can be a sign of a cold or virus.