The Issue of Diminishing Air Quality in Colorado

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Fresh Rocky Mountain air… hard to stay inside when it’s a sunny day in Boulder. But last weekend residents in north Boulder kept indoors, after over 1,000 home evacuations due to a forest fire.

CU Senior Alex Doyle, an avid cyclist would usually never skip a morning workout, but with  plumes of smoke coming from the foothills, the air was far too contaminated with soot and chemicals like carbon monoxide. Particles like these can aggravate the lungs, eyes, and heart of even the healthiest person.Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.39.24 PM

Most days citizens aren’t quite as concerned about the other toxins they breathe in from Boulder’s air, but forest fires in Colorado are not the only cause of diminishing air quality. Michael Kodas, Director of Environmental Journalism at CU and wildlife photographer, speaks about the misconception of forest fires in the broader scheme of air quality.

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Kodas said that, though forest fires do attribute to the deterioration of air quality, “The odd thing is that we are looking at trying to deal with wildfires for their smoke, when that’s actually what would be a natural cause of smoke. And we’re not necessarily dealing with the industrial oil and gas exploration things that are gradually decreasing our air quality all the time.”

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Michael Kodas, deputy director of the Center for Environmental Journalism, CU Boulder

In October of 2014 NASA discovered a methane cloud the size of Delaware over southwestern Colorado. Even with smarter regulation of methane emissions from oil gas fields have helped in tackling the problem, Denver is still the eighth most ozone-polluted city in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.

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With more people moving to the state, the inevitability for a decrease in air quality. It’s not just the days when a wildfire breaks out to pay attention to what’s in the air you breathe.

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