The Good Air Lady
The Good Air Lady
talks about what you breathe
indoors and out

Air Quality in Denver

The air quality in Denver has improved through the years. Once rivaling Los Angeles's bad air quality, it now is deemed much cleaner and healthier. But there is still a long way to go to make and keep Denver's air quality high.

The mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, is a city where air quality is a huge concern. Air quality in Denver is closely watched by many different agencies, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is up to the citizens and government of this city to make changes now to help decrease the air pollutions affects on both the health of its people and the environment.

The air quality in Denver is variable and that has caused the CDPHE to institute a daily advisory system to give the residents direction of when they may need to minimize their affect upon the environment. It's location in a bowl is part of the reason for the collection of air pollutants. Inversions, a natural phenomenon whereby warm air traps cool air -- and its pollutants, also contribute to air Denver's air pollution problem. But the Chinook winds that roar through the city on occasion mitigate the pollution by blowing it away. Yes, Denver has variably clean air.

Denver has "Air Advisory Days" with Red and Blue being the terms used to say if it's a bad or good air-quality day.

  • RED: A red advisory means that the air quality is poor and/or expected to worsen. There are mandatory burning restrictions on Red Days, as well as voluntary driving restrictions to help decrease the affect on the environment. No fuel of any kind can be burned in a non-approved stove or fireplace either.
  • BLUE: A blue advisory means that air quality is good or expected to improve. No action is needed when the advisory level is blue.

  • The good news is the monitoring and restrictions is having a significant impact upon the air quality in Denver. Denver has met federal air quality requirements for six major pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, lead, airborne particulates, carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone, and sulfur dioxide. This has had a big impact on the health of this city's citizens.

    Some of the most common pollutants that affect the air quality in Denver include carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Carbon monoxide is created when fuel is burned so is caused by most forms of transportation. The problem with carbon monoxide is it binds to your red blood cells, reducing your body's ability to absorb oxygen molecules, creating a situation of hypoxia -- or low blood oxygen. Since oxygen is our body's fuel of choice, we don't operate well when we don't have enough oxygen in our blood. Our brains don't think as clearly, our heart senses the lack of oxygen so pumps faster, and our lungs pump harder to strive to get more oxygen into our blood. Your heart and lungs can overwork themselves, furthering your health problems. If there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, all this hard work only makes the situation worse. And it takes weeks for the effects of CO Poisoning (the problem of having too much carbon monoxide in your blood) to diminish.

    Particulate matter, another common pollutant in Denver's air, include airborne materials that are created by diesel emissions, motor vehicles, wood smoke, and the creation of power from its coal-burning power plants, as well as sand, dust, and particles from paved and unpaved roads. The particulate matter is a huge contributor, along with the bowl location of the city, to the wintertime "Brown Cloud" that is seen around Denver.

    There are some things that can make an impact upon the air quality in Denver that citizens can do. This includes finding alternative ways of getting around, finding alternative fuels, making our homes more energy-efficient, and refraining from open- or wood-burning fires. All of these things require citizens to be willing to make a change in how they do things in their life. This is the most difficult part of helping to decrease air pollution.

    Air quality in Denver is something that needs to be carefully monitored and watched. Due to the high altitude of this city, the air pollution causes even more breathing and health problems for the citizens than in a city that is located at a lower altitude. This is seen in the number of breathing related conditions that are diagnosed each year in people from infants to the elderly. There have been significant gains, but more needs to be done to help battle the problems that are caused by the location of the city.

    Denver is a beautiful city that people love visiting and living in. The air quality in Denver can be significantly improved simply by making a few changes. You only have to be willing to make the sacrifice to make your world a healthier place for you and the environment.