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Pollutants emitted into the air by human activity contribute to a variety of health and environmental problems. Two that have a significant impact are nitrogen oxides and mercury.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are a group of highly reactive gases. Elevated concentrations of these gases cause respiratory distress, degradation of vegetation, impaired visibility, increased acid deposition, smog and a ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone has been linked to health effects including decreases in lung function, inflammation of the airways, and aggravation of lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema.

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that interferes with how nerve cells work. Mercury exposure can decrease the ability to perform basic functions such as seeing, hearing, talking and walking. It can also cause personality changes such as depression, irritability, nervousness and the inability to concentrate. Coal-fired power plants are the primary source of mercury air emissions in the United States. Once in the air, mercury is carried by winds and eventually settles onto land or into rivers, lakes and oceans. Human exposure to mercury most commonly occurs through eating contaminated fish.
Colorado Health Institute
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Health Statistics and Evaluation Branch
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S
Denver,CO 80246
(303) 692-2160
    Colorado Health Data
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