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Thread: Thoughts on living in Colorado (Denver/Boulder area) with air quality issues/altitude

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2018

    Thoughts on living in Colorado (Denver/Boulder area) with air quality issues/altitude


    I am considering moving to the Boulder, Denver, Ft. Collins area of Colorado and am interested how the weather affects people with CF. I would like to hopefully hear from anyone who lives or used to live there (or similar) areas.

    In particular, I'm concerned with the air quality/pollution, especially during inversions or wildfires. In your experience, has this affected your health much and how often is the air quality too poor to even enjoy the outdoors? I'm also interested in whether the air quality issues affect the smaller areas around Denver (Boulder, Longmont, Broomfield, etc) or if once you leave the Denver metro if the air gets substantially better?

    Also, I am interested in how the altitude and low humidity has affected your health, whether better or worse?

    My wife (who has CF) and I are in our mid 20s and looking to move from the Tampa Bay, Florida area where there is salty air, high humidity, and thick air. Clearly Colorado is different in every sense. I have always heard that living near the salt water is great for the health as it is like a constant saline treatment, but I have also heard that drier air is better than heavy humidity for someone with CF, so just curious what others think. We love hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and any other outdoor activity to enjoy in the mountains, but I just want to make sure that the altitude and air quality won't affect my wife's health too much to even enjoy the outdoors.

    I am appreciative for any input!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    In another life I had an automation engineering and manufacturing company here in Denver for domestic and international markets. Several times a year we had distributors and customers visit, coming from mostly coastal cities. Being good hosts, we usually took them up to the mountains on a day trip. The first thing our guests from the Asian Rim noticed was their nasal mucus drying out very quickly. Some had never known boogers, honest! We quickly learned that you don't want to take anymore from sea level to 14,000 feet with little time to acclimate. Asians we're still predominantly smokers and the combination of the two meant they took a nap, willing or not. In their defense, the combination of a few ten hour jet lag, a strange and upsetting diet and the stress of communicating in English is exhausting.

    These two examples speak volumes. It's probably not a good idea to drive up to Breckenridge and have a beer until you have spent a little time at a mile high. The usual advice is to spend two weeks below 7,000 ft. or so, before doing much more than driving and shopping at altitude. You won't notice coming to 5,000 feet, save a little heart pound when you first arrive.

    The humidity is the fascinating part of living in the metro area and the front range. My personal belief is that the low humidity is beneficial. Disease is less viable in low humidity which means less pathogens in the environment, the air, dry surfaces and you. The argument comes to airway clearance techniques and their efficiency. Unlike skin that can be dry or moist, the business center of the lungs need the same amount of hydration in Bali and Boulder.

    Denver and the front range, what amounts to the Eastern Slope of the Rockies from Ft. Collins to Pueblo has similar weather and air quality. Night before last the news announced suggested closing all windows and doors by air quality monitors. The next morning I woke feeling like I'd run a marathon. Adding Tylenol and sprayed with Albuterol I hear on the news that Denver was waking to a pollution hangover. If we have time, we may be able to reverse the cause of fires and a swath of parched over populated forest right up to my back door. This shouldn't be the time to discuss global warming but what you want in climate and air quality is going to come with some difficult trade-offs.

    Air quality is determined by the weather and the mountains make Colorado's weather. Air moves from West to East various times during the year. Right now the Santa Ana winds are being pulled over the Rockies, picking up smoke from our fires and churning it like some gigantic rolling pin pulled up against the foothills. This is the worst weather for air quality but like weather most places, it changes fairly quickly. Temperature inversions do happen, Denver is in the high end of the Denver-Julesburg basin captures some of the pollution. Fortunately the low end of the Basin is in the North East corner of the state so air quality is aided by the geology. Boulder is not in the same pocket of the Basin but shares the same scoup to the lower elevation.

    Denver has two distinguishing air quality issues, UV light at our high altitude, and diesel engines pollute more due to low oxygen levels. Ultraviolet light cooks up ozone and though Florida is in a class of its own for lightening, Colorado has ozone alerts at certain times of the year.

    I'm sorry I can't tell you it's perfect but I have been in so many places and could choose to live in most, I'll take Colorado, but if you want to move for the improved air quality, you might want to check through a listing of locations showing air quality statistics.

    Good Luck and Welcome,

    67yr. old man, DX CF 2002 by sweat test. Heterozygous S1235R revealed by genetic testing in 2003 & 2012 accepted secondary mutation. 7T, 7T polymorphism established to be virulent. Classification review in 2017 remains CF diagnosis.

    Complete pancreatic atrophy, Bronchiectasis, MRSA, osteoporosis, small duct disease, charming personality.

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