COVID-19 stay-at-home orders help improve air quality in Colorado

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DENVER (KDVR) — This week is Air Quality Awareness week and more information is being revealed about COVID-19’s impact on air quality in Colorado.

“Almost every single pollutant has been decreasing,” says Scott Landes, a meteorologist with the Air Pollution Control Division for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

His department has a network of air quality monitors around Colorado that show a 20 to 40 percent decrease in almost all pollutants over the last six to eight weeks.  

“What’s going on right now is an experiment that would never happen under normal circumstances,” says Frank Flocke, a scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

He says although we know that COVID-19 is helping decrease air pollution, we can’t draw conclusions on exactly how much until we incorporate other factors like the decrease in traffic and current weather patterns.

Flocke also says that coronavirus or not, our weather patterns in spring typically help improve air quality but it gets worse during the summer so it’s crucial to continue the momentum of decreasing pollution.

“It really is important especially this summer for everyone really to do their part because we’re in a situation where our region does not meet federal ozone standards,” says Sara Goodwin, the communications director for the regional air quality council.  

Goodwin says there are simple ways people can help heading into the summer months like working from home, ordering food and groceries online, and trying to reduce at least one or two car trips per week. 

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