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Colorado Latinx Non-Profit

Cultivando for Clean Air: Protecting Our Community, Protecting All of Colorado


At Cultivando, we're dedicated to cultivating a thriving Commerce City, and that starts with clean air. Recent air monitoring data paints a concerning picture: Commerce City experiences significantly worse air quality than other Front Range cities. These aren't just numbers – they represent a potential health crisis for our community.


The frequent and high levels of pollutants we're measuring are a stark reminder of environmental injustices like the Flint water crisis. In Flint, residents unknowingly consumed lead-contaminated water for years, leading to a public health emergency. Initially, the focus was on short-term issues, but the long-term consequences – developmental delays in children and increased cancer risk – are far more devastating.


This is a concern shared by many in Commerce City. Just this past Earth Day at the University of Denver, Cultivando presented findings from a year-long health study conducted by residents themselves. Driven by concern about the impact of emissions from the nearby Suncor oil refinery on their families' health, residents between November 2022 and June 2023 documented a range of health problems they believed to be linked to air pollution.



The study, which involved surveying residents and conducting a comprehensive assessment of environmental factors, found that many residents reported experiencing or observing symptoms like:

  • Strong odors

  • Birth problems and miscarriage

  • Asthma

  • Cardiac conditions

  • Rashes and burning eyes

  • Recurrent nosebleeds

  • Persistent coughs

  • Stress

  • Certain cancers


These findings are concerning, but unfortunately not unique. Similar health conditions have been documented in communities living near other oil and gas refineries, extraction, and distribution sites across the country.


Cultivando's health study also revealed the presence of a variety of chemicals in Commerce City neighborhoods. The monitoring identified both particulate matter and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). worryingly, three chemicals measured at the Suncor fence line – benzene, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen cyanide – were also found in the community air samples collected by Cultivando.


This comprehensive monitoring effort utilized five different sampling strategies, identifying a total of 129 chemicals. These included weekly samples revealing 16 chemicals, 15-minute canister samples finding 21 chemicals, and continuous monitoring over a year identifying 22 chemicals. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contributed data on carbonyls (14 chemicals) and ozone precursors (58 chemicals). Even hourly weather data and radon levels were factored into the assessment.


The breadth of data collected by Cultivando paints a clear picture: Commerce City residents are breathing air laden with pollutants that pose a serious health risk.


Protecting Commerce City is about protecting all of Colorado. We need stricter regulations that account for the reality of frequent pollution spikes, not just one-hour averages used in current health impact metrics. We need investment in cleaner technologies and initiatives that promote healthy living in our community.


This is a fight for all of us. Cultivando urges you to join us in demanding clean air for Commerce City and the entire Front Range. Together, we can prevent another environmental disaster and cultivate a healthier future for everyone.



Here's how you can cultivate change:

  • Spread the word: Share this blog post and talk to your friends and family about air quality concerns.

  • Contact your local representatives: Let them know you care about clean air and urge them to support policies that address our community's specific needs.

  • Get involved with Cultivando: We're working hard to advocate for clean air solutions.



Join us in our mission to make Commerce City, and all of Colorado, a healthier place to live.

Let's breathe easy together.

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