Record-high temperatures in the region have prompted health officials to issue an ozone action day alert for El Paso County through Wednesday evening, urging sensitive groups to take precautions while outdoors.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Regional Air Quality Council issued the alert at 4 p.m. on Tuesday for the Front Range Urban Corridor from El Paso County north to Larimer and Weld counties, including the Denver-Boulder area, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley.
Active children, active adults, the elderly, and those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion on Wednesday. The summer ozone alert program generally begins in June and runs through September when hot temperatures combine with pollutants to create smoggy conditions.
Ways to reduce ozone levels include:
• Carpool or use public transportation.
• Avoid idling in your car.
• Maintain proper air pressure in tires.
• Delay lawn mowing or car fueling until after 7 p.m.
• Conserve electricity by turning off lights and computers when not in use.
A current air quality index is available on elpasocountyhealth.org. Green means conditions are good and people are encouraged to make clean air choices to keep pollution levels low. Yellow means the pollution is building and people are encouraged to take precautions. Orange and red means pollution levels are high and potentially unhealthy.
Ozone and Particulate Matter – what’s the difference?
The CDPHE particulates action day alerts in recent days was prompted by wildfire smoke. Particulate matter differs from ozone: Particulate matter (solid or liquid particles suspended in the air) can include smoke, fumes, soot, and combustion by-products, as well as natural particles (windblown dust, pollen). Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in the stratosphere, approximately 10-30 miles above the earth’s surface, protecting the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Ozone also exists at ground level and is the primary component of smog. At ground level, ozone is created when specific pollutants react in the presence of sunlight. In urban areas, vehicular and industrial emissions are chief contributors to ozone production. Ground-level ozone adversely affects health and damages the environment.