Grant could help monitor local air quality

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Dealing with the inversions, high wind storms, and maybe even by-products of the gas and oil industries, the quality of the air we breathe here in the valley is very important.

One local woman is hoping to get approval for a grant that could benefit the Grand Valley air quality, as well as students.

A registered nurse for 35 years, Benita Phillips can tell you the air quality in the Grand Valley might not be as pristine as one may think...

That's partly why she's been pushing for a state grant in conjunction with CU-Boulder, that would fund a high school student-led air quality monitoring program into district 51...

"We have literally 1000's of people here in the Valley who have science backgrounds who would do really well to interact with high school students in helping them develop their own science curiosity," Phillips said.

If they go the grant, stations would be set up near D51 schools that collect data on the air and are supervised by students.
In order to get a shot at that money, the grant specifies that they need support from the schools and government.

"Without a letter of commitment from District 51, without a letter of commitment from the Mesa County Commissioners, we probably will not get the grant."

At Monday morning's commissioner's meeting, Executive Director of the County Health Department Jeff Kuhr advised the commissioners not to write a letter of support for now. He says the department has to be objective when asked to partner with special interest groups.

"For the overall health of the population, I'm not in disagreement of their approach," Kuhr said, "but I also have to think about what is the impact to the economy? What is the impact to the burden to the local taxpayer?"

While it seems everyone's in agreement that the project would be beneficial to students while offering another perspective to air quality control, government support can be a tricky situation.

"Am i siding with something that other residents in the community might not agree with? I have to take very careful consideration of these requests."

The program already exists in the North Fork Valley, allowing students from the four high schools thereto get hands-on data collecting and assessing experience.

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