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Data drives decisions.

As a result of new legislation, Colorado is rapidly building out monitoring for air pollutants, including the critical need to measure air toxics, which are known carcinogens. Collecting enough high-resolution data means more informed decisions. Yet this will take years. The goal is to start pairing data with the reality that many communities experience living in proximity to industries, highways, railroads, and other sources of pollutants. 

Government to the rescue.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 set the framework for health-based air quality standards nationwide. In the 70’s and 80’s, Denver had an infamous brown cloud of smog that hung over the city. And while Colorado’s air quality has gotten better since then, it still has a long way to go. But to know where you’re going, you need to know where you came from.  

Working from the inside and the outside.

Today, Colorado is facing a population boom, creating a struggle to balance cleaning up the air as more people contribute to emissions. Since 2012, parts of Colorado’s Front Range have repeatedly failed to meet ozone standards. Now money from the Inflation Reduction Act is pouring in to help. Some marginalized communities, however, struggle to trust government interventions due to a longstanding history of distrust over not being treated fairly. So knowing the solution requires everyone to work in the same direction, can both sides learn to work together? 

Jason Schroder, Program Manager, Air Toxics & Ozone Precursor Section in Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Natalie Smith, PhD, Physical Scientist and Lead Investigator, Community Air Toxics Mobile Lab in Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Michael Ogletree, Division Director for the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Jana Milford, Professor Emerita in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Environmental Engineering Program
Gabi Pfister, Senior Scientist, Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Lab in National Center for Atmospheric Research
Adrienne Sandoval, Air and Radiation Division Director, EPA Region 8
Ean Tafoya, Colorado State Director, Green Latinos

Further Reading

"Making Noise in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea," Colorado Collective, August 29, 2018.

"Looking Back at 50 Years of the Clean Air Act of 1970," The Colorado Sun, August 29, 2022.

"Charts that explain why it's so hard to cut Colorado ozone," The Colorado Sun, August 29, 2022.

"Ground-level Ozone Basics," EPA, June 2, 2023.

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