A smoky sunset as seen from New Castle, CO.

Smoke moderate to unhealthy risk for particulates

August 7, 2021

Wildfires burning around the western United States are causing the air to be hazy with smoke in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued several Wildfire Smoke Advisories around the state, including locally. Garfield County Public Health staff encourages residents to continue to visit the county’s local air quality website at garfield-county.com/air-quality to get real-time data and information on air quality readings. Our website also contains links to the Colorado Smoke Outlook and other state and national resources.

Garfield County Public Health operates an extensive air monitoring network with two locations that collect data on particulate matter, a primary component of smoke. As of August 7, 2021, the sites in Battlement Mesa and Rifle are reading levels in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and high end of the “moderate” category for particulate matter for the most recent 24-hour average time period. The readings are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) health advisory levels and are color-coded. They are based on regulatory standards for criteria pollutants, which have set thresholds under the Clean Air Act.

There are periods of time where PM 2.5 concentrations are reaching levels that are “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” in Garfield County currently. If visibility becomes less than five miles, or if air quality becomes listed as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

People are often most keenly aware of air quality when it is visibly impacted and Garfield County works year-round to collect and report data on a wide variety of air pollutants. Check out our website for annual reports, emissions inventories, and other air quality research.

For questions, contact Edward “Ted” White, Environmental Health specialist, at (970) 665-6383, or email Public Health.

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