Colorado’s air is not as clean as it may seem, and the youngest lungs among us are paying the price.  I witness the consequences of Colorado’s inadequate action on air quality daily as a pediatric lung specialist.

The new legislative efforts led by community, advocates and our elected leaders pave the way for a healthier future for our children.

I’ve dedicated my career to studying and treating respiratory issues in children and have seen firsthand the damage caused by unchecked pollution. Children living near habitual polluters are more susceptible to developing long-term health issues such as asthma and other breathing disorders. And all children are at higher risk from pollutants entering their developing lungs.  Because of this, when air quality is especially poor, all children are considered a high-risk group. I’m left with telling children to stay at home and stay inside on beautiful Colorado days, because the air is not safe for them to breathe. This is not merely a professional observation but a personal plea for action.

This package of bills represents hope – a framework to reduce hazardous emissions from Colorado’s biggest sources of ozone-forming pollution. Our leaders must not turn a blind eye to the problem; they must take action to require better corporate practices and extend oversight like never before.

If we ignore the realities of poor air quality on our children, we are not merely overlooking unsafe air quality metrics, but disregarding the longevity and quality of life for Colorado’s kids. 

The responsibilities of my profession extend beyond the walls of a clinic. The efforts to mitigate ozone do not strive to stifle industry, but rather to challenge it to do better—to be innovate and consider neighbors and future generations.

Coloradans understand the value of our environment and the necessity of guarding it. As residents, parents, and stewards of this great state, I urge our senators and representatives to support this crucial legislation. 

Heather De Keyser, MD is a pediatric pulmonary specialist. She advocates for policy solutions to the growing health threats of climate change with Healthy Air and Water Colorado.