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Air Quality During Winter Months

Released on Monday, February 1, 2021
Contact Information
  • Jason Komes, Environmental Specialist, 970-416-4235, jkomes@fcgov.com
  • Jill Marx, Communications Specialist, 970-221-6951, jmarx@fcgov.com

With the 2020 wildfires fresh in our memories, the Fort Collins community is paying attention to the local air quality more than ever. One thing many are wondering is if they need to pay attention to the air quality in the winter months like they do in the summer months. The answer is yes – air quality is important year-round.

During the summer, ozone and particles in the air from wildland fires are primary concerns. However, winter weather patterns often create conditions for poor air quality. Thermal inversions are common during winter months, where warmer air is above colder air, effectively trapping particulate matter, carbon monoxide, smoke from indoor fireplaces, odors, and other contaminants close to the surface. In addition, cold air is denser and moves slower, mixing less than during the warmer months. Combined with inversions, less mixing means potentially higher pollution concentrations at ground level. High pollution concentrations can negatively impact health, especially one’s lungs and nervous system.

Below are ways to reduce air pollution in winter months:

  • Avoid idling your vehicle for more than 30 seconds, fcgov.com/idling.
  • Avoid using solid fuel burning appliances and devices like smokers, bbqs, fireplaces, fire pits, woodstoves, etc. on Winter High Pollution Advisory days unless they are EPA certified or are the only source of heat. Sign up for alerts at: fcgov.com/aqdata. Check the local Air Quality Index daily at: fcgov.com/aqdata.
  • If you have an indoor fireplace, only use clean, dry, seasoned wood in an EPA approved woodstove or appliance.
  • Helpful tips for indoor burning can be found at: fcgov.com/indoorburning