Trouble in the Air: 86 dirty air days in 2016 pose risks to Grand Junction area residents’ health

Media Contacts
Garrett Garner-Wells

[GRAND JUNCTION, COLO.] – Just one week after Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order to begin the process of making Colorado the only interior state with cleaner cars standards, Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center (RPC) released a new report detailing community-by-community impacts of air pollution on public health. The report, Trouble in the Air: Millions of Americans Breathe Polluted Air, analyzes Environmental Protection Agency records of air pollution levels across the state.

“Governor Hickenlooper has put Colorado back in the driver’s seat when it comes to cleaning up our air, combating climate change, and protecting the health of our citizens,” said Emily Struzenberg, climate organizer with Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center. “Even one day with unhealthy air is too many. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Environment Colorado RPC’s new report focuses on smog and particulate pollution – harmful pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, gasoline and natural gas. Frequent exposure to elevated levels of this pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.

“There’s no safe level of exposure to smog and particulate pollution,” said Elizabeth Ridlington, Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “Even low levels of smog and particulate pollution are bad for health and can increase deaths.”

Smog develops on hot, sunny days in a reaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In Colorado, 45 percent of NOx emissions come from mobile sources, including passenger vehicles, buses, trucks, airplanes, trains and other heavy equipment.

“As Colorado’s population grows, so do the number of problems we have with air pollution” said Kristin Winn with Citizens for Clean Air. “We need to keep air quality in Grand Junction from deteriorating further, and the Governor’s executive order is a wonderful step in the right direction.”


Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.