Absolutely Awful Air

Fox 31. As pictured, the awful air quality in Denver caused smoky skies on August 7th

In the past few weeks, Denver’s air quality has taken a turn for the worse due to the surrounding West Coast fires. The smoke and particles in the air have been causing many problems for the environment and people breathing the polluted air.

Denver’s air quality peaked on August 7th, reaching number one on the World Air Quality Index for the worst air. At its worst, the air quality index ranking for Denver was 162. Air quality is currently improving, with numbers lingering in a moderate ranking.

Denver is currently recovering from the drop in air quality, but many people are still feeling the full force of its effects. A moderate ranking on the AQI scale sounds decent, but it is still dangerous for those in vulnerable groups. It is recommended for those in danger, such as those with asthma, older people, and young children, to keep medications close by, limit activity and outdoor exposure, and have a doctor that is easily accessible. Even for the general public, it is encouraged to limit intense physical activity and keep windows closed in order to preserve the quality of indoor air. There is also a long-term effect on the environment; chemicals in the smoke can hurt plants and wildlife, and also contribute to long-term global warming.

Air quality is measured by the amount of pollution in the air, with PM 2.5 being the most dominant pollutant present in Denver. PM 2.5 is a fine particle that can be created by doing daily things like cooking or burning candles, or on a much larger scale like wildfires. West coast wildfires have been creating massive amounts of PM 2.5 which migrate into Colorado due to weather patterns. On August 7th, the PM 2.5 level reached 69.5, contributing to the overall 162 on the AQI scale.

The students at Chaparral have been experiencing the challenges that these conditions create. Athletes playing outdoor sports such as soccer, cross country, football, and softball, have harder times practicing and playing due to the smoke. Without fresh air, athlete’s bodies have a harder time getting oxygen to muscles and lungs. It makes movements and breathing more difficult in an already hard workout.

“I'm on the cross country team and we were running when the smoke was really bad. It made it so much harder to train because the air quality affected my breathing a lot. I felt so much more tired because I wasn’t getting enough good air, and it made the workout unnecessarily harder,” Kaitlin Anderson 24’ said.

Students and staff with lung conditions such as asthma have also been experiencing hardships because of the pollution. Those affected have had to keep their medications, such as inhalers, close by in case of a sudden attack caused by the smoke and they have also been forced to spend limited time outdoors on their final days of summer.

As Denver’s air quality continues to improve from the all-time low, people continue to push through the effects and recover too.

Written By Elie Yates 25'