Air quality continues to improve in GarCo
Air quality in Garfield County continued to improve in 2015, according to a preliminary report presented Monday to county commissioners.
The news continues what has become a trend in the past several years, especially when it comes to measurements of 90 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some of which are hazardous to human health.
The improvements could be due to decreased development in the oil and gas industry, as well as improved technology in the industry and elsewhere, said Morgan Hill, Garfield County environmental health specialist.
“We know that drilling and completion can be one of the bigger contributions to air emissions,” she said.
Monitoring at sites in Rifle, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs showed the county did not exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s National ambient air quality standards for ozone — despite the fact the EPA recently lowered the threshold for those standards.
Measurement in Rifle exceeded the threshold in 2008 and 2012, but as Hill clarified, exceeding standards does not equate to a violation. She stated the county has not violated the standards since the county started its monitoring program.
Overall, ozone levels in the county appear to have stabilized, she added.
There was a decrease in VOCs at the Rifle and Parachute locations in 2015. With the exception of 2013, both locations have seen a year-to-year decrease since 2008, according to the provided data.
At the same time, the Bell Ranch site south of Silt measured an increase in VOCs compared with 2014, and Carbondale also saw a slight overall increase as well.
Hill pointed out that both monitoring sites were still quite low, especially when compared to the levels measured in the first year of monitoring at each location.
The Bell Ranch results were largely due to one elevated sample collected in January of that year, while the Carbondale results were related to two elevated sample collected in March 2015, Hill said.
She intends to do some further investigating to hopefully find a cause for the elevated samples at both sites.
A complete report, as well as an abbreviated newsletter on the findings, will be completed and posted online at http://www.garfield-county.com/air-quality/ by the end of June.