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Denver metro counties get an ‘F’ for ozone pollution in latest American Lung Association report

Denver, Fort Collins ranked among worst U.S. cities for air pollution
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Posted at 3:53 PM, Apr 21, 2022

DENVER – Every county in the Denver metro area earned a failing grade for high ozone days, with Denver and Fort Collins in particular ranking among the worst U.S. cities for air pollution, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released Thursday, shows Denver and Fort Collins ranked among the 25 worst cities in the country for ozone pollution, with Denver ranking 7th and Fort Collins ranking 18th on the list. Only cities in California and Arizona fared worse when it came to ozone levels.

The report found people in the Denver metro experienced more days of unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution (also known as soot), and compared to last year’s report, Denver’s rankings were worse in all three areas measured by the ALA: ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.

The report also found that for the first time since 2016, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, and Jefferson counties all earned a failing “F” grade for high ozone days, with El Paso, Larimer, and Weld counties also getting an “F” grade.

Some areas of Colorado fared better on the “State of the Air” report, with Grand Junction ranking among the country’s cleanest cities, ranking 13 for the Top 25 cleanest cities for year-round particle pollution. Colorado Springs and Pueblo also made the list for year-round particle and short-term particle pollution, respectively.

Archuleta and Delta counties each earned A’s for recording zero unhealthy days of high ozone, according to the report.

The ALA’s report comes more than a week after the EPA proposed downgrading the Northern Front Range from a “serious” to a “severe” violator of federal ozone standards, in a move that would require officials to cut emissions and pollutions in the Denver metro region.

The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Colorado were slightly worse overall than in last year’s report, but all counties earned passing grades.

Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Visalia and Fresno in California earned the top four spots for worst polluted cities, with Phoenix rounding out the Top 5, according to the report.

The ALA states particles in air pollution can be smaller than 1/30th the diameter of a human hair and “can cause early death and heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits.”