Last January's record number of inversion days produced air so thick with pollutants I had to wear a mask on my daily walks.
Now through May 31st, it is spring open burn season in Mesa County. This doesn't mean residents get to set fire to anything, anytime or anywhere - regulations include obtaining a permit through the local fire department. The laws forbid burning garbage, household trash, construction materials, leaves and grass trimmings. The list goes on to include rubber, plastic and other materials that release toxic smoke.
In addition, residents are required to wait two hours after sunrise before burning, and put out fires two hours before sunset. Even agricultural burns are "requested" to work within the designated daytime hours. See www.health.mesacounty.us for information.
Much to the credit of our predecessors, Mesa County has an Air Quality Planning Committee, a group of stakeholders (aren't we all?) working under the health department to make air quality protection recommendations to local elected officials. Stakeholders include government, industry and education, medical and legal sectors of the community as well as interested citizens.
I am grateful for the regulations in place to help protect the air we breathe. But when I look to the National Monument and see a thick yellow haze or billowing grey smoke, I realize we are not doing enough. It is time to step up awareness of the dangers, especially to our children. All of us are inhaling microscopic, toxic particulates that stick to the tissues in our lungs and hearts. I encourage Grand Valley residents to report violations to your fire department.