Annual Air Quality Report

2020 Air Quality Report Highlights

Aspen's annual air quality report catalogues the air quality protection program efforts taken by the City of Aspen and its partners, outlines air quality and its importance, and presents recommendations to withstand and combat negative air quality impacts now and into the future.

  • Aspen maintains clean, clear air through a robust air quality program. 
  • Aspen had 330 days rated as healthy, more than in 2019 and 2018.
  • Aspen had 4 days of impaired air quality due to smoke from the Grizzly Creek and other regional wildfires.
  • See the full 2020 Aspen Air Quality Report for more details.

Air Quality has Improved Significantly in last 30 Years

Looking into Aspen from the West are two photos side by side.  The photo on the left was taken in 1985 and shows air pollution. The photo on the right from 2011 shows clear air.

The Air We Breathe

Like the weather, air quality changes from day to day and even hour to hour.  While air is mostly gas, it also holds lots of tiny particles called aerosols. Some aerosols like dust and pollen are picked up naturally when the wind blows. Air can carry particles that cause air pollution such as soot, smoke, and car exhaust. Air pollution occurs when substances such as particles and gasses reach harmful concentrations, making it difficult to breath.


Understanding Air Quality Using the Air Quality Index 

Air quality is determined by assessing a variety of pollution indicators, including the use of sight and smell as well as air quality monitors and sensors. Aspen uses the EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI) to communicate current air quality and its impact on your health. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution, and the greater the health concern. Aspen's AQI is calculated using data from air quality monitors and works like a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500.

Clean Air Through Partnerships and Regulations 

  • The Community protects our air by riding the bus, walking instead of driving, or grabbing the downtowner. Planting trees, not burning wood and not idling your car also help reduce pollutants.
  • Current Regulations that ban new wood burning fireplaces, control restaurant grills, limit vehicle idling, and monitor commercial diesel vehicle emissions have improved Aspen's air quality, especially in winter.    
  • The Transportation Department provides in-town shuttles, the downtowner and We-Cycle which means fewer vehicles on Aspen's street and less exhaust and dirt in the air.
  • The Parking Department issues free carpool permits to reduce single passenger vehicle driving.
  • The Parks Department cares for Aspen's urban forest and mitigates air pollution by removing ozone and carbon dioxide from the air. 
  • The Streets Department removes dirt with year-round street sweeping before it becomes PM10.
  • The Engineering Department provides bike, pedestrian and transit infrastructure improvements . 

How Can You Help?

  1. Use AspenAirQuality.com to get daily, health based information about the local air you breathe to help protect your health and the health of your loved ones.
  2. Commute Clean to reduce ozone-forming pollution. Try RFTA, the Downtowner, We-Cycle, Car to Go, walking, biking, or go electric!
  3. Support Local Work to keep our air clean. Reference this report to advocate for the programs noted here and connect with us on Facebook