Ground Level Ozone, Aspen’s Summertime Pollution Concern
While most of Aspen’s citizens are familiar with the winter battle against particulate pollution, otherwise referred to as PM10, many do not know that ground level ozone is an emerging local concern. There are two types of ozone. Ozone high in the atmosphere provides protection against dangerous ultraviolet rays. Ozone down at ground level is an air pollutant that is harmful to breathe and damages crops, trees and other vegetation. It is a main ingredient of smog.
In general, the summer’s hot temperatures and intense sunlight cook the air along with chemical pollution from vehicle exhaust, oil and gas extraction, lawn equipment, and household paints, stains and solvents. This creates ground-level ozone.
The City is in the early stages of assessing the risk of harmful ozone levels in Aspen. The Environmental Health website lists a graph of the previous month’s daily ozone 8 hour average. Soon, the website will also have a real-time reporting system that will help citizens who are susceptible to respiratory illness decide whether or not to tackle outdoor activities like hiking or biking that day. Until then, look toward the horizon during daylight hours to see if there is thick, hazy smog in the air.
Because the average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air a day, and one out of every three people exposed to air pollution is at a higher risk of experiencing health effects, now is the time to protect Aspen’s air.
Here are some steps you can take right now:
- Conserve energy, especially if your power source is from fossil fuels like coal.
- Open your windows instead of using the air conditioner to cool your home.
- When fueling your vehicle, “stop at the click” and avoid over filling the tank.
- Refuel after 5pm.
- Take the bus or carpool to work.
- Bike or walk when running errands.
- Mow lawns after 5pm.
- Use electric powered or human powered gardening equipment.
To learn more about ozone pollution you can visit the following websites: