Colorado Asks People to Avoid Using Their Cars

colorado asks people to avoid using their cars

Drivers in Colorado have been asked to avoid using their cars amid poor air quality. Pictured: Emissions from the exhaust of a petrol car leave the tail pipe in this archive stock photo taken on January 7, 2024 in Bristol, UK.

Colorado has asked drivers to leave their cars at home when they head out, in a bid to tackle poor air quality.

The state issued an "Ozone Action Day Alert" on Sunday afternoon, saying it will remain in place until "at least" 4.00 p.m. on Monday. Drivers were asked to avoid using their gas and diesel vehicles to help manage pollution and "lessen the impacts" on air quality, officials said. Poor air quality can cause respiratory problems or breathing discomfort, the warning noted.

Ozone is a gas that occurs both above the Earth and at ground level. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects the planet from the Sun's radiation, but ozone that forms at ground level—caused by a chemical reaction in the sunlight between pollutants such as car exhaust fumes and power plant emissions—is a harmful air pollutant.

"Ozone in the air we breathe can harm our health, especially on hot sunny days when ozone can reach unhealthy levels," according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "People at greatest risk of harm from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma."

The alert in Colorado this week was shared by the National Weather Service on its website. It comes ahead of plans by the government agency for its offices in Colorado to "begin officially issuing Air Quality Alerts in partnership with Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE)."

The collaboration is due to officially launch next month, on July 15, the agency said, adding: "When CDPHE issues an Ozone Action Day or other alerts, the NWS will relay that information to the public via our Air Quality Alert."

Colorado's Ozone Action Day Alert was put "in effect for the Front Range Urban Corridor," with the plea covering drivers in Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, western Arapahoe, western Adams, Broomfield, Boulder, Larimer, and Weld Counties. But the appeal does not just target motorists:

"Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion, the alert said.

Colorado also publicized news of Monday's driving alert with an article on the state government's website, as well as publishing posts on social media sites such as X (formerly Twitter) by the CDPHE's Air Pollution Control Division.

"Ozone may reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups category on Sun & Mon," one X post said. "The highest concentrations are expected in the SW & W portions of the Denver Metro area, including the foothills. Reduce outdoor exertion in these areas to protect your health."

Newsweek has reached out by email to the CDPHE seeking further information and comment.

The alert in Colorado follows similar pleas to motorists issued by several other states lately, with car owners in California and Texas urged to temporarily avoid driving gas- and diesel-powered vehicles and refrain from visiting gas stations as emissions can worsen air quality. Officials in Indiana and Alabama have also turned their sights on road-users as they attempt to tackle the problem.

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