By Dawna Matthews:
Colorado is a beautiful state. The Rocky Mountains are epic and the expansive range now glitters with snow; the plains, canyons, forests, and lakes all contain visual delights at every corner. Coloradans are nature aficionados and enjoy the outdoors year-round. Because people who live here love the outdoors and all nature has to offer, I was actually shocked to find that, based on a report card from the American Lung Association, the air quality in multiple counties across the state received “F’s and D’s” from 2009-2011 for their ozone pollution levels.
Air pollution results from gas and particle contaminants emitted by vehicles, planes and factories, and can cause irreparable harm when it gets into our lungs and bloodstream — and is even more harmful to children. Approximately 1 in 10 children in Colorado have asthma, and some attribute this to their breathing polluted air while their lungs are still developing. Drilling sites emit noxious chemicals that worsen and even cause asthma, gastrointestinal problems and other illnesses. Pollutants in the air can also be “invisible” by settling into our rivers, lakes and oceans, and later converting into toxins we ingest, for example when eating seafood.
A group of moms in Colorado is working to educate and empower Colorado moms who love the state and its outdoor lifestyle to be advocates for their families and rally to the cause. They have created a petition for cleaner air, as currently the state’s legislature is writing important standards regarding this.
This group, known as ‘Colorado Moms Know Best,” has been working diligently to make sure the governor understands that, in order to be the “healthiest state in the United States,” it is imperative to have stricter regulations for oil and gas emissions in Colorado. Oil drilling and gas development have almost doubled since 2000, and has nearly tripled along the Front Range in nearby communities. As this industry develops, there is a correlating increase in smog-inducing air pollution around oil and gas sites — many close to neighborhoods, schools and playgrounds.
Kids’ exposure to airborne pollutants is generally higher because they breathe faster and usually spend more time outdoors than adults do. Since children are smaller in size, when they eat, drink or breathe, they incur greater exposure per pound of body weight than adults. Children tend to breathe through their mouths more and lose the benefit of the filtering system in their nostrils. Toxins that are inhaled are far more dangerous than those ingested because they pass, undiluted, directly into the lungs and then into the bloodstream.
As Colorado drafts legislation for new air quality regulations, many groups such as Colorado Moms Know Best are pushing for action and demanding stricter rules. Colorado Moms visited the state capitol to deliver their petition to strengthen regulations on the oil and gas industry. Along with the petition, they brought “gas patch kids” dolls (Cabbage Patch Kids dolls re-imagined). These dolls were meant to represent real children affected by the rising ozone and air pollution levels. Because of groups like these in Colorado, we can raise awareness across the nation and the world, reduce air pollution from oil and gas operations, and protect the health and well-being of our children.
For more information:
American Lung Association’s Report: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/colorado/