DENVER (CBS4) – The American Lung Association put out its annual report on Wednesday. It assigns letter grades to counties along the Front Range. The grades are based on information gathered from air monitoring stations.

When most people think of smog or ozone pollution, they typically think it would be the worst in the biggest cities. But some counties are getting a bad grade because of Denver’s pollution.

When it comes to smog most of the counties along the Front Range got “C”s, “D”s, and even “F”s. Ironically Denver County received the highest grade — a “B.”

Air quality is measured and graded in two categories. The first is ozone pollution. The second is 24-hour particulate pollution — a mixture of small particles that include acids, organic chemicals, metals, and bits of soil or dust.

Since last year Denver County’s grade went from a “C” to a “B” for ozone pollution. But two counties were given an “F” in that same category — Douglas and Jefferson. It’s a grade that remained unchanged from last year.

Both the American Lung Association and the state health department explain, however, that counties with bad grades aren’t necessarily the ones doing the polluting because pollution can travel and settle into other areas.

“Often you won’t see the high ozone levels directly where pollutants are being emitted, but conversely farther downwind after there has been an opportunity for the things to mix and react with sunlight,” William Allison with the State Air Pollution Control Division said.

The grades help let the public know what the air quality is in different areas, but the problem is a regional one. Solutions are in the works.

When graded on particulate pollution, every county along the Front Range, including Jefferson and Douglas counties, received an “A” or a “B.”

LINK: Colorado Air Pollution Control Division


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