Garfileld County ozone levels are high |

Garfileld County ozone levels are high

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Ozone monitoring at several locations in Garfield County and at Ajax Mountain in Aspen show that ozone readings crossed or were close to crossing new federal air quality standards set to be implemented in May.

Recent sampling atop Ajax Mountain found that the highest level of ozone concentration measured for an eight-hour period on the mountain reached 78 parts per billion (ppb).

That concentration did not cross the current federal air quality standard of 84 ppb. However, the new federal air quality standard requirement will lower that threshold to 75 ppb.

The highest concentration of ozone on Sunlight Mountain reached 67 ppb for an eight-hour period. Bell Ranch, which is near Rifle, had a high eight-hour level of ozone measured at 69 ppb, according to the sampling. Testing at Ripple Creek Pass in the White River National Forest reached 67 ppb.

“Those numbers seem high for what we expect,” said Andrea Holland-Sears, an air resource specialist with the White River National Forest, in reference to the eight-hour ozone concentrations.

Holland-Sears presented ozone monitoring results from 11 sites in the study, which was conducted in 2006 and 2007, to the Garfield County commissioners on Monday. The purpose of the study was to determine future ozone trends and determine locations for long-term ozone monitoring.

In the earth’s lower atmosphere, ground-level ozone is considered “bad” and is considered a pollutant that can pose a significant health risk, especially for children with asthma, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Ozone can also damage crops, trees and other vegetation, and it is a main ingredient of urban smog.

Motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents, as well as natural sources emit nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that help form ozone, according to the EPA.

All the high ozone concentrations in Holland-Sears’ sampling came in the summer months ” the only time ozone was sampled. Ozone data presented by Holland showed that higher altitudes generally had greater concentrations of ozone, except for the Bell Ranch site, which is near natural gas facilities. The elevation of the Bell Ranch site was about 5,800 feet.

“The numbers at Bell Ranch seemed rather high considering its elevation,” Holland-Sears said.

Holland-Sears said further goals for the program is to gain ozone data during the winter because of what seems to be high levels of ozone that is occurring in the Pinedale area of Wyoming, which is undergoing rapid development by the oil and gas industry. Earlier this month, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality recently issued three ozone advisories for the area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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