Denver’s air is bad today. It’s expected to be worse Thursday and Friday.

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 3 : A hazy view of the downtown Denver skyline from Sloan Lake in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

State health officials warn of a mix of ozone and new surge of smoke from California fires

Colorado health officials are anticipating “very poor air quality” along the Front Range through the weekend as smoke wafting from California wildfires mixes with elevated ozone pollution.

State health officials have issued ozone “action day” alerts for a record 30 days in a row —  since July 5 — urging residents to mow lawns and refuel vehicles after 5 p.m.

A new surge of smoke from large fires in northern California will increase both ozone and fine particulate pollution through the weekend, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment meteorologist Scott Landes said Wednesday morning.

“Smoke will spread from west to east across Colorado into Thursday,” Landes said. He also said that fires on the Western Slope “that have been pretty quiet” may start back up on Friday with drier and windier conditions, which “could add some additional smoke to the mix for the Front Range.”

Temperatures are expected to reach up to 95 degrees this weekend, which will favor increased formation of ozone as pollution from vehicles and industries bakes in sunlight.

State health officials have issued health advisories due to ozone along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, recommending older people, children, and people with respiratory and other health problems minimize outdoor activity.

The ozone levels measured at state stations show average concentrations consistently higher than the 70 parts per billion federal health limit.

Over the past week, state health bulletins have warned of “multiple pollutants,” similar to the period between Aug. 11-16, 2020, when wildfire smoke mixed with ozone.

Recent rains have brought some relief, as significant rainfall and thunderstorms can decrease both particulates and ozone. But air pollution control officials say higher humidity also can increase the concentrations of particulates and ozone.

Denver’s air is bad today. It’s expected to be worse Thursday and Friday.

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