COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Wildfire smoke has caused air quality throughout Colorado state to decline, causing experts to worry this may be the new trend.
The Colorado State Air Pollution Control Division and Asthma and Allergy Associates in Colorado Springs have been watching air quality closely. Both said this year has been one of the worst they have seen statewide.
So far this year, nearly 20 air quality alerts have been issued around Colorado Springs and over 40 alerts have been issued in the Denver metro area. Scott Landes, Air Quality Meteorologist with Colorado State Air Pollution Control Division, said both areas are well above average.
“In my experience, it has gotten progressively worse, the challenge that we are dealing with right now and probably for summers to come we are going to have these periods with a lot of wildfire smoke across the state,” Landes said.
Landes said one of the reasons for this is wildfire smoke arriving much earlier than usual.
“As opposed to last year, this year we have all of this wildfire smoke hitting right at the peak of ozone season, it’s a double whammy and that’s why this year has been a really challenging year for all Coloradans,” Landes said.
It’s the combination of ozone and wildfire smoke that can be dangerous to people most sensitive to poor air quality.
“On top of the fine particulates that we get from wildfire smoke, ozone has been a problem across the front range region especially in the Denver area but wildfire smoke can actually enhance ozone,” Landes said.
Dr. James Fulton, MD, with Asthma and Allergy Associates, said the smoke can cause people with asthma and allergy problems to be affected the most.
“With our patients, they are already hypersensitive whether that’s pollen, or animal dander they already have those allergies, and so the wildfire smoke will actually exacerbate that sort of inflammation,” Fulton said.
Fulton’s advice on bad air quality days is to limit your time outdoors, pay attention to air quality alerts, and create a clean space in your home.
“On a day you go for a good walk, a good hike, we recommend you take a shower,” Fulton said. “Get those air pollutants or pollen off of your clothes, off of your skin, and get into clean clothes.”
For more information on air quality and ozone levels in your area, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.