Effects of VOCs on knockout roses and other living things

***Update: Wednesday 6/13 — well it didn’t last — the breathable air that is. Tuesday was just a fluke. The air is worse than ever today — from Silt to Rifle. The good thing is I got people talking about it. Three more people talked to me about the bad air today. I realize we can’t DO much about it but if we all talk about it then the subject never goes away. Eventually the industry will have to deal with us. Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbors. Ask them what they think about the air quality lately. I guarantee you will get an earful.

cont’d from Bad air quality in Silt

Bad air quality is also referred to as ozone or bad ozone. Symptoms of bad air quality include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, nervousness-irritability-tremors, eyes-ears-nose-throat irritation (sore throat, earache, nosebleeds, allergy-like symptoms), metallic and/or sour taste in mouth, dry mouth, persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness and/or tingling in hands and feet, joint pain. When people breathe bad ozone for long periods they develop symptoms which mimic allergies and asthma. Likewise people with allergies and asthma see their symptoms worsen from breathing bad ozone.

Zeus absorbs the fresh air at Meadow Lake

Shaun Kellerby from the COGCC’s Rifle office called me Monday morning (6/11). We agreed that was okay because I had told him we were going up to Meadow Lake for the weekend. I told him about the radical difference in air quality between Silt and the Flattops. On the drive up, the air quality improved drastically near Harvey Gap. I felt immediate relief from symptoms but I will go into all that later.

Shaun said he checked out the well pad near Alpine Garden Center on CR346 and couldn’t find any problems there. He said he had about a dozen more wells to inspect and he is still investigating. He added, “I forwarded your complaint to oil & gas liaison Kirby Wynn.”

I said, “That won’t do any good.”

He didn’t disagree. So I said, “Look. I appreciate you addressing my complaint and investigating. But the bottom line is Antero is fracking a bunch of wells directly across the river and they are venting. A lot. Our normal south by southwesterly winds carry those toxic emissions right up against the hogback and they settle in Silt” – or words to that effect – “If you ask me, the solution is simple. Talk to Antero. Remind them there are people living here and we have to breathe this crap. Maybe they can back off a little.” **

He didn’t respond to that. Instead he told me about his intention to check out a well pad on Dry Hollow Road. Ok, so I get it. If Antero responds to a request like that then they would be admitting they are responsible for the bad air quality. And as we all know, the issue of air quality is off the table. Just like Silt’s water – experts agree, everything’s fine.

Though I must say Shaun Kellerby is a nice guy. He is easy to talk to and very empathetic. I’m sure that’s why he has the job. He’s supposed to be a good listener, empathetic, and reassuring. At the same time he does seem sincere. After all, he said he lives in Battlement Mesa. He knows from bad air quality.

Back to my observations, which I also described to Shaun. We went up to Meadow Lake for the weekend, the third weekend in a row that I got out of Silt. Even though the air quality has become increasingly worse living here, leaving and coming back makes it so much more noticeable. In fact Tod pointed it out to me about a month ago. He travels a lot and he said, “The air in Silt stinks. Long Island has better air quality.”

We left town for Memorial Day weekend and I noticed my allergy-like symptoms magically disappeared. When we came home the air quality worsened Tuesday morning (5/29). That’s when the headaches started.

This past weekend, I and my family experienced relief from symptoms up at Meadow Lake. The headaches and allergy-like symptoms disappeared. I could smell again. The sour/metallic taste in my mouth went away. No shortness of breath or chest pain. Just gobs of fresh air.

From the eastern ridge overlooking the lake, the brown cloud was visible around Mamm Mountain and spread out to the west – ugly and surreal. On the drive back down Bruce Springsteen’s “Death to My Hometown” played on the radio. Tod and I just looked at each other. This is happening faster than we expected.

When I awoke Monday morning (5:30 a.m., 6/11) back in Silt, I felt thick-headed (on the verge of a headache) and nauseous. I took the dogs outside and cleaned out the camper. But after about 20 minutes my eyes watered, my ears and throat ached, and the sour taste filled my mouth. I retreated indoors with the dogs, closed up the house, and turned on the air conditioner. I also used an essential oil blend called Breathe Again and within about an hour I felt better.

BTW, I should explain that I refer to my symptoms, because I can’t speak for anyone else. Tod and my daughter Ema endure some of the same symptoms, as well as others. I’m keeping the grandkids out of this. I have talked to about a half dozen people over the past couple weeks and they noticed the bad air quality, too, and described various symptoms. But I’m not conducting a survey.

We also see that our dogs, Zeus and Pepé are affected. They both sneeze a lot and they have runny eyes. Zeus is an 11-year old Malamute with a life-long ritual of going outside at 5:30 a.m. and staying out all day unless it’s stormy or hot. For the past two weeks he comes back in the house by 6:00 a.m. and stays inside all day except to go to Dogland. This is not normal behavior for Zeus.

As for Dogland, some days the air is better down there, others not so much, depends which way the wind is blowing. Monday was not a good air day at Dogland.

Usually dripping in pink roses

In the garden, my yellow rose bush and my pink knockout rose bush normally bloom like crazy for a couple weeks. Both are drought resistant but we water them anyway. This year they didn’t have many blossoms and they didn’t last. Same with the purple iris and the poppies. The peonies withered practically overnight.

So there it is. I have identified the problem. Bad air quality in Silt. I complained to the proper authorities. The COGCC and Garfield County. Now we have to figure out how to cope.

** Tuesday 6/12 — What a difference a day makes. I can breathe today! No headache. No allergy-like symptoms. No sour taste in my mouth. The wind switched. This morning it was out of the north, zero to four mph. I don’t think that’s enough of a wind to clear the air so quickly and completely — unless there wasn’t any venting. Kind of an amazing coincidence that I told Shaun to tell Antero to back off the venting and just like that the air in Silt clears.

However this happened, it is an incredible relief. You never really appreciate the air you breathe until you feel like you’re suffocating.

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