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Get Smart

How you affect the air, and it affects you.

Simple Science Behind Ground-Level Ozone

Colorado gets plenty of sun, but that’s a bad thing when sunlight “cooks” nitrogen oxides (NOx) & volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from industrial, vehicle and household pollutants, forming ground-level ozone.

Nitrogen Oxides are highly reactive and poisonous gases formed by the combustion of fuels. Volatile Organic Compounds are any compound of carbon (except those excluded by EPA or with very little reactivity) that participates in photochemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Other Air Pollution Coloradans Breathe

Another type of air pollution in Colorado is what’s called particulate matter, or PM2.5. You can see it in the air over Denver – some call it the “brown cloud.” PM2.5 is also found in wildfire smoke and can make ozone pollution even worse.

How Ground-Level Ozone Affects Coloradans

You can’t see ground-level ozone, but it’s harmful to breathe. You can move indoors to protect yourself from summer ozone. That makes it different from PM2.5 pollution, such as wildfire smoke, which you can see, is also harmful to your lungs and heart, but is more difficult to get away from. You can protect yourself by using indoor air purifiers and n95 masks.

Kids Can Help Colorado’s Air

Are you ready to earn your Clean Air Cadet badge?

Clean Air Cadet badgeYou get to be in charge. Make a fun family adventure, see how many car trips you can combine. Or better yet, skip a car trip and use your bikes with help from MyWaytoGo.

 

 

Download our Simple Steps. Better Air. Kids Activity Book in English or Spanish

Download these colorful handouts

Where Ground-Level Ozone Comes from in Colorado

NITROGEN OXIDES (NOx)

During an average summer day, approximately 164 tons of NOx pollutes our air. People who drive gas-powered vehicles, that’s everything from cars to large construction equipment, make up 33% of those emissions.

 

NITROGEN OXIDES (NOx)

During an average summer day, approximately 164 tons of NOx pollutes our air. People who drive gas-powered vehicles, that’s everything from cars to large construction equipment, make up 33% of those emissions.

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC)

During an average summer day, approximately 292 tons of VOC emissions pollute our air. People who drive gas-powered vehicles, that’s everything from cars to large construction equipment, make up 17% of those emissions.

VOC Key for pie chart

 

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC)

VOC Key for pie chart

During an average summer day, approximately 292 tons of VOC emissions pollute our air. People who drive gas-powered vehicles, that’s everything from cars to large construction equipment, make up 17% of those emissions.

*Data from the 2020 anthropogenic inventory developed for nine-county Denver Metro/North Front Range ozone nonattainment area’s Serious Area Ozone State Implementation Plan.

Why Combining Car Trips Matters

Instead of driving to the store, post office, or to other errands one at a time, combine your car trips. This keeps your engine warm – which means your car is creating less pollution for Colorado’s air.