Improving Air Quality in North-Central Colorado: Local Initiatives and Opportunities

Protecting the health and wellbeing of Coloradans is a priority for the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD). To this end, the APCD has implemented a range of initiatives to improve air quality in north-central Colorado. These include public listening sessions, small community conversations, tutorials, and more. The APCD also works with local communities to share updates, learn from their experiences, and incorporate feedback into their efforts to ensure clean air for all Coloradans.

In addition to Suncor's new Title V permits, the APCD has taken important steps in recent years to improve refinery operations, protect public health and the environment, and collaborate with local communities. Educational sessions are held to share information about CCND air monitoring and receive feedback from staff and other community leaders. The APCD has prioritized reducing air pollution in this community and any other that suffers from a disproportionate pollution burden. The Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) has been allocated funding for Larimer County residents to participate in the Mow Down initiative.

The local nonprofit Cultivando is independently monitoring air pollution in the community. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons account for the largest proportion of Colorado's air pollution, estimated at 125 million tons per year. Older people, children under 14, and infants are particularly vulnerable to developing symptoms and other harmful effects when breathing contaminated air. Results from an independent community air quality monitoring center in Commerce City show that air pollution levels there tend to be higher than at other comparable sites in the metropolitan area northwest of the city.

Regulations have been put in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities such as Suncor, which also have the collateral benefit of reducing localized air pollutants. Tropospheric ozone, or bad ozone, is not directly emitted into the air but is created by chemical reactions between NOx and VOCs in the presence of heat and sunlight. The state has implemented initiatives to reduce traffic congestion on Colorado highways, expand public transportation, and improve air quality by making it easier for people to buy electric vehicles and investing millions in environmental initiatives. During winter months, warm air rising close to the ground can keep pollution away; however, a layer of warm air can act as a barrier that keeps cold air close to the surface.

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