There are many types of air pollution, from blowing dust to human-caused chemical emissions. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Has developed standards for six air pollutants that it calls "criteria pollutants" to protect the public's health and welfare. The standards indicate maximum allowable levels of the regulated pollutants in the air. EPA reviews and revises the standards periodically as necessary as new information on health and environmental effects becomes available. The six criteria pollutants are:
- particulate matter
- ground-level ozone
- carbon monoxide
- sulfur dioxide
- nitrogen dioxide
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) maintains a statewide monitoring network for all criteria pollutants as required by the federal Clean Air Act and at times conducts special studies of toxic air pollutants. Monitors are placed in areas where emissions sources and modeling suggest that air quality could be most impacted. Currently in Routt County the only criteria pollutant that is required to be monitored is particulate matter greater than 10 microns (PM10.) As of September 2018, Routt County began monitoring for PM 2.5 (particulate matter greater than 2.5 microns) to help address concerns with haze from wildfires.
In the Past
Routt County and the City of Steamboat Springs were in violation of federal air quality standards for particulate matter in the 1980’s. This was largely due to street sanding, fireplace and woodstove use within the City of Steamboat Springs.
Routt County, the City of Steamboat Springs, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment worked together to craft a plan to improve air quality. As a result, air quality has dramatically improved and the Steamboat Springs Air Shed is now in compliance with state and federal air quality standards.
Routt County’s Air Pollution Control Resolution became effective on June 10, 1991. The City of Steamboat Springs has adopted a similar ordinance. Routt County’s regulation is focused on limiting the number and type of solid fuel burning device that may be installed in new or existing buildings within an area designated as the Steamboat Springs Air Shed. All solid fuel devices must meet the emission standards that apply to EPA phase II standards for woodstoves and fireplaces.
Approved Solid Fuel Burning Devices
Buildings within the Routt County portion of the air shed are limited to one approved solid fuel burning device. There is no limit on the number of gas fired appliances.
Wildland Fire and Smoke
Occasionally smoke produced from nearby wildfires or wildfires in neighboring states moves into the valley creating a haze that obstructs views and can sometimes irritate sensitive respiratory systems. While not everyone has the same sensitivity to wildfire smoke, it’s still a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it. Please refer to the following link on How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health .
The criteria pollutant we are most concerned about related to wildfires, is small particulate matter (PM 2.5.) To help address these concerns, Routt County installed PM2.5 monitoring in September, 2018. These air monitoring results can be viewed live at the following website: Air Quality Index Map
Other Documents and Links:
- Interactive Map of Air Quality
- Fire and Smoke Map
- Activity Guidelines for Wildfire
- Air Quality Buffer Map
- Routt County Air Pollution Control Resolution Number #91-032
- Colorado Air Quality
- Incident Information System