GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Air quality in Denver was among the worst in the world on Thursday afternoon, but it was just as bad in Grand Junction. It’s all caused from the smoke particulates from wildfires burning a thousand miles away. Kristin Winn with the Citizens for Clean Air organization says, “You really have to understand. Particulate matter is teeny, tiny particles that you’re breathing in, and when you breathe in those particles, particularly the ones from wood smoke, they’re small enough to get into your lungs and into your blood stream.”
This can cause major health complications for people with heart or lung disease, older adults, younger children, pregnant women, and people with Alzheimer’s, according to Mesa County Public Health. Stefany Busch with the county health department says, “Things you want to look for are itchy throat, itchy eyes, itchy nose.”
The county health department is taking the steps to warn the public and they’re not alone. “We have placed 30 particulate monitors around the valley. You can go to citizensforcleanair.org. and, the first page of that website will show you in real time what’s happening with air quality,” said Winn.
You can check your phone or computer for the air quality index, or you could use your eyes. Usually, at the Riverfront Trail it’s a crystal clear view of the Grand Mesa, but not on Wednesday or Thursday. “Pay attention, take frequent breaks, and if you can’t see past 5 miles, it’s probably not a good idea,” said Busch.
Mesa County Public Health recommends to avoid heavy outdoor exercise, avoid smoking inside, even vacuuming, and stay indoors. But, that last step can be tricky. The indoor air can be just as bad as the outdoor air especially, if you have a swamp cooler. Winn says, “The health department has some instructions on their website on how to take a 20×20 box fan and put a 20×20 MERV furnace filter that’s rated at least a 13, or above.” Busch has other ideas. “They can switch out their filter on their swamp cooler. Also, you can purchase an air purifier for your home,” said Busch.
To check the air quality index through Mesa County Public Health, click here.
For more information on the smoke in the area, click here.