County air-quality specialist Buda dies at 50

If you breathe, you relied on the expertise of Perry Buda.

For 18 years, Buda worked as Mesa County’s air-quality
specialist, monitoring pollen counts and air pollution, keeping an eye on winter’s inversions and summer’s wildfire smoke and issuing restrictions and advisories on wood burning and outdoor activity when air quality in the Grand Valley dipped to unhealthy levels.

Using the baseline data he had collected, Buda was preparing to gauge what effects the energy industry would have on the valley’s air quality as development moved west down Interstate 70. Then, about three weeks ago, he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.

Buda died last week at University Hospital in Aurora. He was 50.

“He was without a doubt the recognized expert in air pollution control and air monitoring on the Western Slope,” Steve DeFeyter, the county’s environmental health director, said Sunday. “There just wasn’t anyone that came close to his experience.”

William Scott, a Grand Junction allergist who worked closely with Buda, said whenever his patients were having trouble with their allergies, he could count on Buda’s pollen counts to pinpoint the source of their misery.

“He was a very competent and hard-working guy,” Scott said. “He had his heart in it.”

DeFeyter said Buda was hired to resurrect the county’s air monitoring program, which was disbanded in the wake of the 1980s oil shale bust. DeFeyter recalled Buda often working nights and weekends, whether it was responding to residents’ odor complaints after the Grand Mesa Eggs factory began operations in 1986 or issuing pollen-count and air-quality reports.

Buda was soft-spoken yet eager to share his knowledge and information with others.

“He never turned down an offer to speak to anyone, whether it was the county commissioners or school kids,” DeFeyter said.

Beyond his work for the county, Buda was a leader for Boy Scout Troop 342 and an elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Clifton, according to his obituary.


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