ASPEN, COLO. (March 12, 2010) – This February’s PM-10 particulate air pollution levels were the lowest for February in at least a decade, thanks to reduced traffic and frequent snowfalls.
It snowed 16 out of 28 days in February, keeping the air clean and the streets snow-covered. Levels were higher than in January when there was more even snow to cover the dirt on roads. PM-10 levels were lowest on weekends when traffic is almost always lower, and higher on weekdays. The average level was 11 millionths of a gram of PM-10 in each cubic meter of air. The federal health standard is 150, though much lower levels are now known to cause health effects. PM-10 causes increased rates of hospitalization, respiratory illness and death rates, even at moderate levels. The worst day in February had a level of 22. Click here for a graph of the levels.
This February was the fourth coldest on record in Grand Junction. It was also one of the coldest Februaries in Aspen in the last nineteen years, though the overnight low temperatures, as well as daily highs, were still warmer than the historic averages for February. There were two below-zero nights, which is exactly average for February. The amount of snow on the ground by the end of February was just slightly above the average of recent years. Two-thirds of the continental US had a colder-than-average winter this year.
The City of Aspen has several programs for citizens to reduce their PM-10 or greenhouse gas emissions: free in-town buses, paid parking (revenues paying for transit), rebates for free home energy audits for Aspen Electric customers, CORE rebates for home efficiency upgrades, the ability to buy Canary Tags to offset greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be avoided, Transportation Options Program and the ZGreen program.
For more information on air quality in Aspen, visit www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Environmental-Health. For information on Aspen’s global warming programs, go to www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Canary-Initiative/.