Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center
For Additional Information: Kimberly Morrow- Campaign Organizer, [email protected], (540) 250-7655
Denver – Air pollution remains a major threat to our health, according to a new report from Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center, Our Health at Risk: Why Are Millions of Americans Still Breathing Unhealthy Air? In 2015, people here in Denver experienced 23 unhealthy air pollution days, increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
“Even one day with unhealthy air is too many,” said Kimberly Morrow, Campaign Organizer for Environment Colorado.
The report comes just after National Public Health Week, a celebration of efforts to tackle the underlying causes of disease – like air pollution – and ensure that all people have a chance to live long and healthy lives.
Although our air is less polluted than it was 30 years ago, dirty air is still a major health problem. Despite that fact, President Trump is taking an axe to important programs that could help clean up our air. In just the last month, the Trump Administration has:
Instructed the EPA to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, the largest step the United States has ever taken to cut dangerous global warming pollution;
Proposed to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, a “get out of jail free card” for polluters;
Instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back federal clean cars standards that were supposed to prevent 6 billion metric tons of global warming pollution; and
Told the Department of Interior to rewrite air pollution regulations for oil and gas drilling.
These actions will have significant health impacts. Blocking the Clean Power Plan alone will slow progress in cleaning our air – leading to 3,600 additional premature deaths, 90,000 more asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 more missed work and school days by 2030.
Our Health at Risk reviews EPA records of air pollution levels across the country, focusing on smog and soot – dangerous pollutants that come from burning dirty fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Key findings include:
People in Denver experienced 176 days with elevated smog pollution and 112 days with elevated soot pollution in 2015.
Denver ranked 6th worst in the nation for smog pollution in 2015, and 53rd for soot.
Three cities in Colorado ranked in the top 20 cities with the most days with elevated smog: Greely (ranked 20th), Fort Collins (ranked 15th), Denver (ranked 6th).
Across Colorado, 11 cities had unhealthy levels of air pollution on at least one day during 2015, including Denver that had 23 unhealthy air quality days.
Many Coloradoans may be exposed to air pollution even more severe than described here because they live in local pollution “hotspots,” such as near freeways, airports and industrial facilities – facing greater health impacts. For example, people who live near highly traveled roads are at increased risk of developing lung cancer, and at greater risk of death from stroke, lung disease and heart disease.
“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. “Elevated levels of air pollution – even levels the federal government says are safe for most people – hurt our health.”
Morrow urged Colorado’s elected leaders to stand up to attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act, to maintain the strength of the nation’s Clean Car Standards, and to accelerate our transition to clean energy.
“In the face of reckless and dangerous actions from the Trump Administration on clean air, Senators Gardner and Bennet must stand up for our health,” said Morrow. “We urge our senators to defend clean air safeguards and clean cars standards so that dirty air days can become a thing of the past.”
Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are 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. For more information, visit http://www.environmentcoloradocenter.org