Denver Air Quality Slightly Improves Finds 2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report | American Lung Association

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Denver Air Quality Slightly Improves Finds 2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report

Despite continued improvement in air quality, 166 million Americans at risk from health effects of unhealthy air, according to new report from the American Lung Association

Editor's note: Trend Charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at stateoftheair.org

(April 20, 2016) -

DENVER - The American Lung Association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found Denver ranked as the 8th-most polluted city in the nation for ozone. Compared to the 2015 report, Denver has cut ozone slightly. This is in keeping with a trend seen across the nation of lower ozone pollution levels. 

“The 2016 ‘State of the Air’ report finds unhealthful levels of ozone in Denver, putting our local citizens at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular harm.” Said Curt Huber, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Colorado. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half of the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.”

Each year the “State of the Air” reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution and particle pollution. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can be lethal. But the trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected in 2012-2014, are strikingly different for these pollutants nationwide, and also in Denver.

Ozone Pollution in Denver

Compared to the 2015 report (2011-2013), Denver experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. 

“Ozone is harmful to public health and especially children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said Huber. “When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room.” 

Nationwide, ozone pollution has decreased because the nation has cleaned up major sources of the emissions that create ozone, especially coal-fired power plants and vehicles. However, according to research, climate change causes warmer temperatures, which makes ozone harder to clean up. 

Particle Pollution in Denver

The 2016 report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. According to the 2016 report, Denver has more days when short-term particle pollution has reached unhealthy levels in 2012-2014. 

Increased heat, changes in weather patterns, drought and wildfires are all related to climate change, which has contributed to the extraordinarily high numbers of days with unhealthy particle pollution in some cities, including Denver 

“If we can do more to save lives—we should, and we can,” Huber said. “The Lung Association in Colorado calls on Colorado to continue work towards meeting the standards outlined in the Clean Power Plan to reduce harmful emissions from power plants that worsen climate change and immediately harm health.” 

Learn more about Denver rankings, as well as air quality across Colorado and the nation in the 2016 “State of the Air” report at stateoftheair.org. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and healthy air, contact the American Lung Association in Colorado at BCoyne@Lungs.org or 303-847-0278.

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About the American Lung Association in Colorado 

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.

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