Tackling Ozone Pollution

Denver ozone pollution
Ozone pollution over Denver Photo credit: CDPHE

Tackling ozone pollution in Colorado (starts at 3:55): Cooler fall weather might soon bring back the bluebird skies we all love. But last year ozone levels in the Denver metropolitan area were high enough to prompt state health officials to issue ozone action alerts an average of once a week. (This summer has fared somewhat better.) During these ozone alerts, health officials recommend that children, the elderly and people with compromised lungs do not exercise outdoors. Hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran interview John Putnam, the environmental programs director for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, about the science, the sources (the largest being oil and gas operations), the health impacts, and policy approaches to ozone pollution. Governor Jared Polis named Putnam to tackle, among other things, a longstanding problem with the state’s air quality: parts of the state have been out of compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards for more than a decade. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency upped the ante. It  declared that parts of Colorado are in “serious” non-compliance of federal air quality standards for ozone, which we all know as “smog.”
For more info on health impacts, read Susan’s article. For info on in intricacies of the state’s oil and gas rules, read this article by Daniel. And the CDPHE features ongoing info on ozone here.
For info on the “climate strike” this Friday and climate activities over the next week, look here.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producers: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Health Impacts of Oil/Gas Drilling

A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton, Colo. Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group
A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton, Colo.
Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

Drilling’s Health Impacts (start time: 7:50): A pressing question on the minds of many Colorado residents, health experts, and others amidst a surge of oil and gas activity is this: Does living near an oil and gas well harm your health? A scientist at the forefront of exploring such questions is Dr. Lisa McKenzie, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz. She is the lead author on a recently published study that examines the potential impact of nearby oil and gas drilling on childhood cancer rates. The study’s important findings were challenged by the state Health Department, whose recent assessment concludes that nearby oil and gas operations poses minimal risk to residents. Dr. McKenzie  talks with How On Earth’s Susan Moran about her study, and the complex science of risk, correlation and causation.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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State Climatologist // Water Contamination

Nolan Doesken

Feature #1: (start time 5:09)  Did you know that Colorado, and for that matter most states, have their own “state climatologist” – an expert who keeps tabs on the changing climate and its impacts in the state. In Colorado’s case it’s Nolan Doesken. He’s based out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. Mr. Doesken also heads a nationwide citizen-science project called the  Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Mr. Doesken about the network, as well as a recently released Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study, which suggests we’ll be thirstier and thirstier in the future.

Mark Williams sampling a groundwater well near Buena Vista.

Feature #2: (start time 16:00) Water is such an essential — perhaps the essential — resource for life that it is considered as a key ingredient for life anywhere in the universe. No surprise, then, that it has become a battleground, especially in the Western states like Colorado that are dealing with drought conditions and higher demand for clean water to support a ever-increasing population. Dr. Mark Williams, professor of geography at CU Boulder talks with co-host Joel Parker about his research into the environmental and human health impacts of energy development and mining on the quality of water in our aquifers.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran|
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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This show was featured January 7th 2013 by Science 360 Radio