Healthy Air

Front Range air quality officially downgraded to ‘severe’ by EPA

After years of failing to sufficiently bring down harmful levels of ozone pollution, the EPA officially downgraded Colorado’s Front Range to "severe" violators of federal air quality standards.

Clean air

Air pollution visible over Denver. Photo credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

On Sept. 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially downgraded Colorado’s Front Range from “in serious violation” to “in severe violation” of federal air quality standards for ozone pollution. The move was proposed last spring and has significant ramifications for the region.

The new designation recognizes that since 2012, the region from Denver north to Fort Collins and Weld County has consistently failed to meet the health-based standards set by the EPA for ozone pollution. Those standards were strengthened in 2015, putting the region even farther out of compliance.

Exceeding ozone limits is harmful to human health and can cause or exacerbate respiratory issues such as asthma and lung damage, as well as other health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes.

Solutions to reduce ozone pollution include switching school buses across the state from dirty diesel to electric; building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure; adopting the latest clean car standards; doubling transit service and phasing out gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment.

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