Rifle City Council, Garfield County Public Health address poor air quality concerns | PostIndependent.com

Rifle City Council, Garfield County Public Health address poor air quality concerns

Heidi Rice
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – Leslie Robinson has asthma and says sometimes she can’t even go outside in Rifle because of the poor air quality.

The Rifle resident brought the issue up to the Rifle City Council and members of Garfield County Public Health addressed her concerns at Wednesday night’s regular city council meeting.

“It makes me cough,” Robinson said. “It’s hard to breathe … but this is about everybody’s health, not just mine.”

Robinson said that she believed part of the problem were those who were burning coal or wood in their homes or businesses, which could be contributing to the problem, especially for those who suffer from respiratory and heart conditions.

Robinson presented documentation of readings taken from the county’s air monitor on top of the Henry Building at Third Street and East Avenue in Rifle, showing air pollution spikes that exceed EPA levels.

“My concerns are for all residents who are impacted by this poor air quality,”

Robinson wrote in a letter to council. “I am asking the Rifle City Council to investigate the possible causes and react accordingly to protect our health.”

In response, Paul Reaser, senior environmental health specialist for the county, responded in front of city council members Wednesday night explaining that there were a number of factors that influenced the air quality numbers, including smoke emitted from large semi-trucks, cars and wood-burning stoves. Other factors, according to Reaser, which contribute to poor air quality include weather temperatures – such as high humidity and low temperatures.

Reaser said the county can’t pinpoint the problem with records of a few spikes … it takes at least a few years to determine the exact cause of the problem.

“At this point, we can’t [definitely] determine the problem,” he said. “We need to clarify and better interpret the data.”

Jim Rada, environmental health manager for Garfield County Public Health, said the county intends to work with the city in addressing the issue.

“We’ll see what can be done and work with the city,” Rada said. “Hopefully it will result in a working relationship to address some of these issues.”

Robinson, who is also a member of the citizen watchdog group, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, said she just wants to breathe freely.

“I want to be able to walk downtown without a respirator,” she said

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