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Testing indicates fine particle pollution higher in Commerce City, north Denver

Sources of fine particle pollution in the area include the Suncor Refinery, cars and more distant sources like wildfire smoke.

COMMERCE CITY, Colorado — The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) shared results from the first round of air quality monitoring in the areas of Commerce City and north Denver.

CDPHE reported the following after collecting data between May 14 and July 17 from the Colorado Air Monitoring Mobile Lab, which was placed at the Eagle Pointe Recreation Center in Commerce City:

  • Levels of fine particle pollution were higher in the area compared to other places in Denver and cities around the state over the same period, reaching levels that could impact sensitive groups.

  • Ozone in the area was high sometimes, but lower than other areas in the state over the same period.

  • Volatile organic compounds did not reach levels where experts would expect health impacts, but it is not fully understood how those compounds may interact with other pollutants to cause impacts.

Sources of fine particle pollution in the area include the Suncor Refinery, cars and more distant sources like wildfire smoke. CDPHE said the mobile lab cannot determine the sources of the pollution it measures.

CDPHE said it plans to send to mobile lab back to the area in the future as part of an enhanced focus on air monitoring in the area.

RELATED: 5 projects selected to improve public health around Suncor Refinery

CDPHE's 2020 settlement with Suncor includes a provision that requires an investigation into the root cause of violations at its Commerce City refinery. 

The findings were reported earlier this year, and Suncor agreed to spend $12 million to implement those findings, improve operations and enhance technology at the refinery.

A community committee chose the projects, which will cost $2,272,400 and will be funded by Suncor as part of a March 2020 settlement with CDPHE over violations of state and federal law.

The projects will impact southern Commerce City and unincorporated Adams County, along with the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in north Denver.

RELATED: Suncor refinery to pay $9 million in settlement for air pollution violations

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RELATED: Suncor Energy hopes improvements 'regain community’s trust'

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