Garfield County offers fourth air quality forum |

Garfield County offers fourth air quality forum

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – Garfield County officials have organized three forums for local residents to discuss and learn more about air quality in the community. But for an issue that many people talk about, only a handful of people have attended the county forums.”Our turnout has been relatively small for all of them,” said Jim Rada, environmental health manager for Garfield County. “Air quality has been, in my estimation, one of the key issues, particularly as it relates to community growth and industrial growth that is going on in our county.”So Garfield County officials hope that fourth and final Smart Citizens Series on Air Quality forum will draw significantly more people so that they can learn about the concerns of the community and give area residents a chance to ask questions or share their fears. The forums were designed to inform the public on issues related to air pollution, The forum, titled Regulating Air Quality in Garfield County, will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at the West Garfield Colorado Mountain College Campus in Rifle. Rada said Ray Mohr, an air control specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will speak about how air quality is regulated in Garfield County and what communities can do to manage air quality.”Following that, we hope to engage the folks who are going to be there in a conversation or a question, answer and comment period to (learn) what type of things concern folks about air quality,” Rada said. Several recent studies have shown some various indications of air pollution in the community. A two-year study into air quality in Garfield County released late last year found no violations of federal air quality standards and that the levels of air pollutants in the area were “generally very low.”But a preliminary health risk assessment provided with the study said that some oil and gas sites in the area appear “to present significantly higher cancer risk than urban and rural” areas.Also, ozone monitoring at several locations in Garfield County during the summer months over the last two years found that ozone readings crossed or were close to crossing new federal air quality standards that were expected to be set this month.Rada said he wouldn’t characterize the recently released studies “as a cause for concern” but added that “people need to be aware of what’s going on.””As we continue to gather information and share that with the community, perhaps they will understand the relative risks of air pollution within our community,” Rada said.A long-awaited health-risk assessment into the oil and gas impacts and other area health risks in Garfield County is set to be released June 17.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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