COLORADO POOR AIR QUALITY: Should You Avoid Outdoor Exercise This Weekend?

DENVER (KDVR) – As a thick cloud of smoke enveloped Denver on Saturday afternoon, the crowds in Washington Park began to dwindle.

Until 3 p.m. there were only about a dozen players left on the basketball courts, which were known for large crowds to play pick-up games on the weekends.

“To tell the truth, I can’t even keep my eyes open,” said Tomas Gee.

“I coughed,” added Derrell Lewis. “Everyone felt it, everyone could feel it.”

At around 2 p.m., IQAir briefly rated Denver air quality as the worst in the world, partly due to forest fires along the west coast. It has returned to this top spot and lasted for a few hours on Saturday evening.

Ozone Action Alert Day for Front Range

But is it dangerous to be outside? Doctors say it depends.

“I think most people can exercise regularly with a few key clarifiers,” said Dr. Jeff Sippel from UCHealth. “I would recommend that early in the morning is better, maybe later in the evening after the air has calmed down, and after a rain shower to minimize exposure.”

Sippel said while being outside can be uncomfortable, healthy people are unlikely to experience long-term harm this weekend.

He said it was a different story for people with asthma, COPD, and other heart and lung problems.

“If someone is exposed for even 10 or 15 minutes, especially if they have asthma or COPD, that is long enough to cause irritation,” he said. “Irritation of the eyes, nose, mucous membranes, and the like, and it can be in a matter of minutes, and we can all have these kinds of symptoms.”

Sippel said masks, especially medical masks, can help relieve some of these symptoms.

The poor air quality in Denver could be causing these health symptoms

“Any mask with an adequate seal will help,” he said. “Anything that can be done to filter out some of the particulate matter would be helpful.”

Sippel said some people will be more air sensitive than others this weekend, and that’s perfectly normal.

“I don’t notice it that much,” said Max Rieser. “If so, it’s mostly fine. I don’t stress myself too much about it. ”

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