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Public Health - News

Posted on: July 1, 2021

JCPH & the RAQC Offer Tips to Stay Healthy When Air Quality is Poor this Summer

Simple Steps. Better Air. logo

Jefferson County, Colo. — Summer is finally here and we are already feeling the heat in Colorado. This time of year when the climate is hot and dry, increased ground-level ozone pollution and smoke from wildfires can make our air more harmful to breathe. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) and the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) remind residents that there are ways to protect our health when air quality is poor and simple steps we can all take to help keep our air cleaner and healthier for everyone. 

“Poor air quality can cause a number of health concerns and aggravate existing health problems, especially for people who have chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or other lung diseases. Breathing bad air is also especially harmful for older adults, babies and children and people who spend a lot of time working or exercising outdoors. Prolonged exposure can cause short- and long-term lung damage,” said Jim Rada, environmental health director at JCPH. “Luckily, there are some things residents can do to protect their health when Air Quality Health Advisories and Ozone Action Alerts are issued.”

When air quality is poor, residents can take the following steps to protect their health:

  • Spend more time indoors, where wildfire smoke and ozone levels are lower.
  • Exercise indoors. If you must exercise outdoors, choose easier activities like walking instead of running so you don’t breathe as hard.
  • Plan outdoor activities at times when ozone levels are lower, which is usually in the morning and evening.

Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant caused when emissions from vehicles, industry, certain household products, vegetation and lawn and garden equipment combine with sunlight on hot, dry, stagnant summer days. 

“Summertime ground-level ozone is our region’s most critical air quality issue,” said Mike Silverstein, executive director of the RAQC. “Together, we can take some simple steps to help reduce ground-level ozone and improve our region’s air quality.”

Here are some simple steps everyone can take to improve air quality during the summer months and all year long:

  • Skip two car trips each week and replace them with other ways to get around, like walking, riding a bike or using an e-scooter. 
  • If you have to drive, combine car trips. For example, pick one day each week to run errands. You can also carpool with others to reduce cars on the road.
  • Telework when possible. Working from home can be a great way to reduce car trips and air pollution.
  • Avoid idling. When you are stopped for more than 60 seconds, turn your engine off to prevent pollution and save on gas.
  • Mow your lawn after 5 p.m. to prevent ground-level ozone.
  • Refuel your car after 5 p.m. and “stop at the click” to prevent gasoline vapors from turning into air pollution.
  • Order online and bundle deliveries for after 5 p.m. to reduce car trips.

Jeffco residents can sign-up to receive air quality alerts from JCPH via text or email. Click here and scroll down to “Alert Center.” Select “Air Quality Alerts from Public Health” and enter your phone number and/or email address. 

For more information about the harmful impacts of air pollution, simple ways to help improve air quality and to receive Ozone Action Alerts, visit the RAQC’s Simple Steps. Better Air. 

About Jefferson County Public Health 

Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.

About the Regional Air Quality Council 

The Regional Air Quality Council is the lead air quality planning agency for the nine-county, Metro Denver/North Front Range Ozone Nonattainment area. The Council’s main purpose is to develop plans and programs to keep the region in compliance with federal air quality standards with significant input from area citizens, businesses and local governments. Visit RAQC.org for more information. 

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