By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – What do you do when you’re getting gas and the pump stops (clicks) with a total of $34.87 on the screen? If you just said (or thought) keep going until it gets to $35.00 then please read this entire story. You’re about to learn a very simple action that you can take to help prevent what you see in the picture below.

(credit: CBS)

Colorado’s Front Range has battled air quality issues for decades. According to a report from NASA the air quality in Denver violated national standards up to 200 days per year during the 1970s and early 80s.

READ MORE: I-70 Eastbound Closed At Colfax Avenue In Lakewood After Commercial Vehicle Strikes Bridge

Some of the problem is our geography combined with local weather patterns and we can’t really change that. Surface wind directions and weak upper-level wind speeds during the summer can actually work to keep pollutants trapped near the ground along the Front Range, regardless of how large the population is and what activities we do.

Copter4 flies over the foothills on Nov. 9, 2019 (credit: CBS(

But the biggest part of the problem is something we can control, and that is our daily actions. Pollution created by the booming population between Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins, will undergo chemical reactions each day as it essentially “cooks” in the intense summer heat. This results in the formation of a gas called ozone.

High levels of ozone then hang near the surface due to our terrain and weather patterns, creating the unhealthy air that we breathe. Ozone can affect people with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma and emphysema. It can also damage healthy lungs, cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it may also be behind increased cases of asthma.

(credit: CBS)

So back to the point of this story! That click on the gas pump is designed for a reason. It means your vehicle’s gas tank is full. Squeezing in an extra 20 or 30 cents isn’t going to get you any further down the road than if you had stopped at the click.

In addition, that extra gas probably isn’t going to make it into your tank anyway. It’ll likely get stuck in the hose or the pump’s vapor recovery system, or just dribble on the ground as you return the nozzle to the pump.

READ MORE: Robert Killis, CSU Pueblo Student Arrested After Detectives Find Large Cache Of Weapons, Ammunition In Vehicle, Apartment

(credit: CBS)

Topping off your gas tank puts unnecessary gasoline vapors into the air, and when multiplied by thousands of people each day overtopping their tank, its one of the many things that contributes to our growing problem with ground-level ozone. So stop at the click the next time you get gas, and make it a habit to do so going forward. It’s probably one of the simplest things you can do to help keep our Front Range air clean.

Here’s a list of other things to consider adopting into your routine. Each action in the list below helps reduce pollutants that “cook” in summer heat, forming high levels of ozone gas near the ground.

1. Get gas before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. because in between those hours is the hottest part of the day, and that’s when we see spikes in ozone gas levels.

2. Avoid activities that release vapors or fumes into the air between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., such as mowing, painting or staining. This doesn’t apply if you have electric powered equipment.

MORE NEWS: 5280 Trail Would Connect Neighborhoods In Denver's Downtown Core

3. Combine trips or errands, take public transportation, carpool when you can or work from home.

Chris Spears