Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) is a federal initiative that seeks to share information with the public about protecting and improving air quality. This year's theme is "Working Together for Clean Air." The week runs May 1-5, 2023, and each day has a different topic. The themes include:
- Monday, May 1 - Wildfires and Smoke
- Tuesday, May 2 - Asthma and Your Health
- Wednesday, May 3 - Air Quality and Transportation
- Thursday, May 4 - Air Quality and Climate
- Friday, May 5 - Participatory Science
The Denver metro area, including communities throughout Adams County, is experiencing increasingly worse air quality conditions. The Denver Metro-North Front Range does not meet the EPA's standards for ozone, and residents are increasingly being exposed to high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM). Absent dramatic changes in behavior and policy, we will continue to see worsening air quality conditions across the Front Range due to impacts from climate change, such as increased temperatures, drought events, and the number and severity of wildfires both inside and outside of Colorado.
Both ozone and PM can cause a multitude of health impacts. Ozone impacts include short-term effects such as coughing, scratchy throat, and difficulty breathing. Long-term impacts include lung and airway damage. Ozone can aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Particulate matter is the most common trigger of asthma attacks.
Like ozone, PM is associated with conditions like chronic bronchitis, asthma, and heart disease and has been linked to increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and early death. Adams County has a higher age-adjusted asthma emergency department visit rate of 29.67 than the statewide average of 20.1.
To help address these issues, Adams County is receiving EPA funds ($400,000) to support and expand our existing Particulate Matter (PM2.5) sensor network and local government partnerships to increase AQ monitoring, community awareness about AQ, and policy/systems changes to improve public health.
“The EPA commends Adams County for their leadership in building a strong, community-based air monitoring network,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “As we continue to address persistent air quality challenges in Colorado, these types of projects provide critical information on conditions in our neighborhoods. Through Inflation Reduction Act funding, EPA is helping local leaders, health experts, and families secure real-time information about air quality near locations where people gather.”
The Adams County Health Department is working with a number of partners, including the City of Northglenn, Adams 12 School District, City of Thornton Parks and Rec, Adams County, Anythink Libraries, Arapahoe Libraries, City of Sheridan, and City of Englewood. We would like to thank them for their partnership in this work.
“Northglenn is excited to be working together for clean air with the Adams County Health Department and many other great partners in our region. The ability for our residents to monitor PM2.5 in real-time is a true benefit and can help them make decisions about their health regarding outdoor activities on bad air quality days,” said Becky Smith, Planning Manager for the City of Northglenn. “Residents can also use it as a tool to take steps to reduce their air quality impacts on days when PM2.5 is higher.”
We urge everyone to take part in AQAW and help spread awareness about air quality. Working together, we can all help ensure clean air for ourselves and future generations.