Beneath the Fog

FEATURES: Staff Writer Channing Icenogle researches the effect of pollution in Denver.

You wake up in the morning, you might climb into a car and make the usual commute to school, not thinking of the harmful CO2 being emitted from the car. You may grab a snack or coffee on your way to class, not even realizing that the plastic you threw into the trash could have been recycled. Once at school, the day seems to drag on for what seems like eternity. Finally the bell rings, and as you rush out the door to go to lunch, you toss some papers from class into the garbage can. Making your way out of school, you notice a couple of food wrappers scattered around campus.  You might decide to join your friends in a ride to a restaurant you drive to. Or you might continue walking towards Colfax, where you start to wheeze as a truck passes, leaving a trail of smog behind it. Eventually, you get your lunch and start heading back to school, without hesitation you probably throw your leftovers and utensils into the trash. Just by lunch you have not only been exposed to numerous types of pollution, but also contributed. So how much does this pollution affect our everyday lives?

Denver is 14th on the list for worst air quality in the US.

According to The American Lung Association, the city of Denver is 14th on the list for worst air quality in the US. Since the 70’s the air quality is so well known for being polluted it earn it’s own nickname: The Brown Cloud. For years government officials have been working to help reduce the air pollution in Denver. But despite the efforts to help, in January of 2018 the pollution in the air was 6 times more contaminated than in Beijing, China. When air quality reaches extreme contamination levels like this example, serious health effects can happen. (Many cases of lung problems have occured like: new cases of asthma, COPD, lung cancer, stunted lung growth, bronchitis and more. Children with asthma are expected to soon pay up to 3,200 dollars more annually for pollution related treatment. Air pollution can also increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health diseases. The closer in proximity to major roadways, the more likely the problems are to develop. East High School located right off Colfax, and many students drive to school as their mode of transportation. With this occurrence, it is important to remember how dangerous contaminated air can to one’s health.)

Many of the items [students] receive with their meal like tin foil, paper bags, paper cups, plastic utensils can ALL BE RECYCLED.

Garbage and environmental pollution also impacts our lives in enormous ways. The City and County of Denver released a report claiming that around 85% of recyclable materials used by DPS were still sent to the landfill. That’s around 1,130 tons of materials that could have been recycled. Why is this a big deal: the landfills these materials go to have to expand when more items are received. With huge quantities of reusable materials going to waste, the land is becoming further contaminated and will not be able to be used again for thousands, ten thousands, or even millions of years. But it’s not just what the school uses that contributes. Numerous students at East go out to lunch during the school week. Many of the items they receive with their meal like: tin foil, paper bags, paper cups, plastic utensils, and more can ALL BE RECYCLED. But, be it lack of recycling bins, or simply laziness, lots of students choose to throw away their garbage. Adding on, East does not have composting bins for compostable materials. A study by Harvard’s public health department showed that 95% of all compostable material ends up in landfills, approximately 38 tons of food waste each year. Without taking actions to change wasting at East, many may feel the consequences now or in the future.

Maybe you will wake up tomorrow, and go about your day as normal. Perhaps you decide to be conscious about your decisions. It may not seem like much at the time but every effort influences change. It all depends on the decisions individuals make. So, what actions will you take?