Golden area recording decline in air quality

Golden's air quality, more specifically particulate matter in the air, gets worse in the winter months.

Particulate matter is the biggest factor in Golden's poor air quality.

The changing of the seasons means many things for Golden, including change in activities, population and tourism. But it also means we’re heading into the bad season for air quality.

“In the summer we’re actually pretty good. When we talk about air quality and particulate matter, we’re generally talking about winter issues,” said Ken Schroeder, chair of the Golden and District Air Quality Committee.

Schroeder and Annette Lutterman appeared before Town Council on behalf of the committee last week to request collaboration and a “visible commitment” from the municipality with their Air Quality Management Plan.

Air particulates had been on the decline until recently, when the data started showing a change. Statistics show a drastic increase, however updated monitoring equipment may be responsible for the extent.

And even though many people will not notice any ill effects from the air, some will.

“We’re absolutely certain that it will have an effect on some people’s health,” said Lutterman.

There are many environmental issues that can only be addressed by higher levels of government, but when it comes to particulate matter in the air, Lutterman says the municipality does have some control.

“There are several areas which the Town does have jurisdiction,” she said. “There’s a lot that can be done locally to reduce emissions.”

One example given was the road abrasive the Town uses to add traction during the winter. A less dusty abrasive could have a significant impact on air quality.

“Another thing that would greatly decrease particulate matter would be to persuade CP to pave the parking lot across from 7 Eleven,” said Lutterman. “That’s something simple that they could do.”

The Town has already been lobbying CP, the company the municipality rents the parking lot from, to pave it for some time now.

It’s too early with the new monitoring system to confidently identify a trend, but both Schroeder and Lutterman say that particulate matter in Golden is certainly going up.

“The bottom line is that particulates in the air have increased,” said Schroeder. “We need to increase efforts.”