Hello, new readers, and welcome to my blog here at Healthy Mesa County.
I work in the Air Quality program at the Mesa County Health Department, an area I have been involved in since 2006. Any and all topics that relate to air quality are fair game on this blog, but my focus will be on issues that are relevant specifically to Western Colorado. I aim to provide content that is not widely available elsewhere on the Internet and would love to generate discussion from all points of view. Sometimes, things may get a little technical, but I’ll do my best to keep the jargon to a minimum.
I’ve been fortunate to call Grand Junction my home more often than not for the past three decades, and I’ve witnessed many changes in Western Colorado during that time. As Mesa County continues to grow and the personality of the community changes, conflicts surrounding air quality inevitably arise. We have pride in being a healthy place to retire or raise a family, and we invite tourists to enjoy our beautiful outdoors. We also want to promote sensible economic growth and to appreciate traditional industries such as agriculture. It can be a challenge to accommodate the needs of all citizens in such a diverse and growing community.
However, we all breathe the same air.
On a typical day in the Grand Valley, look up and you will see clear, beautiful blue skies. But on a handful of days, things aren’t so pretty. In the spring, we are periodically invaded by monstrous clouds of dust from deserts in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. During the sweltering heat of summer, smoke from wildfires can creep across the state, and the plentiful sunlight provides the spark for the formation of ground level ozone. In the winter, cold stale air sets the stage for the dreaded thermal inversion. During these inversions, the combined pollution from thousands of chimneys and car exhaust pipes accumulates over a period of days or weeks. Eventually, visibility levels can get so low that Mt. Garfield disappears, and everyone seems to develop a cough that just won’t go away. And for some unfortunate individuals, poor air quality can invade their home in the form of mold, asbestos, radon or carbon monoxide.
While these problems won’t be solved overnight, there are positive steps being made. I’ll share tips that each individual can take to protect their own health, and to limit their contribution to air pollution.
So take a deep breath, and let’s start exploring that ocean of air that lives over our heads. If there’s a particular issue you’d like to see discussed here, please feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call at (970) 248-6966.
Edward Brotsky is the Air Quality Specialist at the Mesa County Health Department. He spends his days gazing at the sky and getting paid for it.