How Dirty is Colorado's Air?

April 29 2010, 10:51 AM
Colorado, according to the state department in charge of public health, is in the midst of an effort to clean up its air, including reducing ozone air pollution, which can lead to respiratory ailments. But, the effort doesn't seem to be going too well--at least so far. The American Lung Association yesterday issued its annual, national "State of the Air" report, and most Denver-area counties have failing grades, according to the Denver Business Journal. Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties all received "F" grades for too-high ozone levels in the 2006-08 data used for the report. Denver skipped off with a "C" and Adams County received a "D" in the assessment, which notes that "ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, and even shorten your life."
On the upside, most of the counties, except for Denver, which got a "D," did stellar or almost-stellar when it came to levels of particulate pollution, such as dust and aerosols, which can harm the lungs. As for Colorado Springs--where car emissions checks were recently scrapped because the region complied with air standards--it rates a "D" for ozone, according to The Gazette, which quotes Rich Muzzy, environmental program manager for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, as saying he's sure that if 2009 data had been considered in the report, last summer's high gas prices, which kept cars off the road, coupled with cooler weather, would have helped drive the grade up. Meanwhile, Natalia Swalnick, an air quality manager with the American Lung Association in Colorado, tells The Greeley Tribune that new legislation to encourage Xcel Energy to convert some power plants from coal to natural gas should help eliminate harmful emissions.