Letter: Air pollution a health risk
As a doctor in the Grand Valley, it doesn’t take too many winters to see that air pollution and weather patterns converge to create genuine health risks. Yes, winter brings on the usual onslaught of colds, flu, and sinus infections. But when cold air moves down from the north and settles in our valley for weeks on end, our air quality deteriorates to seriously unhealthful levels.
Through no fault of their own — just by being outside and breathing — susceptible individuals have a marked increase in respiratory illnesses resulting in trips to the doctor’s office, emergency room, or even the hospital wards. All age groups are affected, from asthmatic youngsters to senior citizens with chronic lung disease.
Air pollution in Colorado is a serious problem — even in the Grand Valley. That is why many western Coloradans were encouraged when Governor Hickenlooper recently introduced important new safeguards to address air pollution in the oil and gas industry.
The proposed protections apply commonsense measures. For example, encouraging companies to use existing technologies, like infrared cameras to plug leaks of dangerous pollutants. Then just like doctor check ups, oil and gas operators will need to follow up with inspection plans to make sure their treatment was effective.
The Grand Valley’s air pollution problems are complex, but these new clean air protections will help. Our air quality is not what it used to be, and sadly, we are steadily gaining on the Front Range in poor air quality.
Now is the time to embrace stricter air pollution regulations to reverse this trend and prevent further deterioration of our air quality. As a doctor, I can vouch for the wisdom of preventive and early treatment measures before the problem gets out of control.
Let’s all urge the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to pass these balanced and sensible proposed rules to ensure our air is cleaner and healthier. The protections should be the same from the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains — our air is just as important as anyone’s!
A responsible oil and gas industry that develops their product safely with minimal impact to our air and health will be in the best interest of all. With these modest rules, the oil and gas industry can still thrive and contribute to our economy while our citizens and visitors can have clean air for their health and enjoyment.
Kenneth Scissors, M.D.
Grand Junction, Colo.
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