Summer Ozone Season Begins
June 1 marks the beginning the summer ozone season along Colorado’s Front Range. Ozone Action Alerts are issued on days when meteorologists from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) expect weather conditions to lead to increased ground-level ozone concentrations in the metropolitan-Denver and Front Range region. Ozone that occurs at ground level is an important air pollutant. Elevated levels can cause symptoms in people that include stinging eyes and throat, chest pains, coughing and respiratory distress.
Those at highest risk of symptoms due to elevated ozone levels include the elderly, young active children, and anyone with a pre-existing respiratory condition such as emphysema or asthma. Even healthy adults who spend a lot of time working or exercising outdoors may be affected by elevated ozone levels. During ozone alert days, people can lower their risk of developing symptoms by limiting prolonged outdoor exercise. Particularly sensitive individuals may even be advised to stay indoors.
Some suggestions for individual action include:
• Keep your car tuned and tires well inflated to increase mileage and reduce fuel use
• Stop at the click when refueling your car or truck to limit vapors at the gas pump
• Refuel after dusk in the summer to avoid the period of intense sunlight
• Bring your lunch to work so you don’t need to drive
• If you use a gas-powered mower, delay lawn mowing until evening to avoid the period of intense ozone formation
• Use water-based paints and stains
• Avoid idling you car unnecessarily while waiting (parking lots, train crossings, etc.)
More information about ozone in our region is available at http://www.ozoneaware.org.
— Larimer County Department of Health and Environment
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.