DENVER (CBS4)– The Front Range may be gasping for the American Lung Association’s 2022 “State of the Air” results. It lists some of the cities in Colorado as having the worst air quality in the country.
Denver and Aurora rank 7th among the worst countries for ozone. Fort Collins, 18th.
“I think it’s something that needs to be looked at very seriously and we need to get ahead of it,” who wore a mask downtown, partly for COVID, but partly for pollution concerns.
He had passed through Boulder earlier in the day when it was smoky. When the air is bad, “That’s where I put 95.”
The history of the danger is difficult to explain notes Dr. Anthony Gerber, professor of medicine and pulmonologist at National Jewish Health.
“As humans, we tend to pick up on very specific examples of something bad going on. And air pollution doesn’t have that effect.
There are times when you see pollution, but the damage it causes is harder to see.
“If someone has a heart attack after a polluted day or goes to the ER with lung disease while it’s polluted, you don’t really feel it the way you feel in a car accident or a crime. .. So it’s a big problem because it makes us tend to underestimate the seriousness of these effects.
The Lung Association has been preparing its report since 2000. There have been some successes thanks to the Clean Air Act, emissions from transportation, power plants and manufacturing have been reduced. But there are other issues, including climate change inducing more ozone production due to higher temperatures.
“It’s such a great city and state to be outdoors and healthy. So it’s tough when the air quality stinks,” said Leslie Paffe, who lives just two and a half miles from downtown. Ozone continues to be a problem, says Dr. Gerber.
“Traffic pollution is a big contributor, oil and gas,” he notes.
They expel volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen and sunlight produce ozone. Ozone helps cut harmful rays in the upper atmosphere, but at ground level it’s bad breathing.
“You breathe it in, one of the oxygens goes off and it directly damages your tissues and causes inflammation.”
There is also particulate pollution which has worsened as the fires have gotten worse.
“I love the city, so I’m used to that part, but where there were fires, I noticed a big difference,” said Donna Driscoll, who lives downtown.
“The air quality was so bad because of all the fires. And you could literally smell the smoke in the air as you walked outside,” Paffe said.
The smoke is harmful to people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, Dr. Gerber says, but he’s also worried about children.
“Year after year of polluted summers that could impact their lung development or lead to the development of chronic lung disease when they are older.”