Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

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January 14, 2022

Statement from Boulder County Public Health regarding Air Quality Monitoring in Marshall Fire areas

Boulder County, CO -We know our neighbors, families and employees who have been affected by the Marshall Fire are awaiting guidance from Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) regarding air quality.

Boulder County Public Health is actively connecting with local officials in the affected towns of Superior and Louisville, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the University of Colorado, and other partners to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the air quality in areas affected by the Marshall fire.

Currently, snow and wet soil are keeping particulates on the ground. As weather conditions get warmer, the soil in affected areas will dry out and when the winds pick up again, air quality will fluctuate. BCPH will release an alert when air quality conditions change.

While some of our partners are gathering data that will give our community a glimpse of long-term recovery, BCPH is focusing on our community’s immediate needs to ensure safety guidance is appropriate now.

What BCPH is doing now:

  • Working with our partners to collect accurate and timely data to inform decision making.
  • Air motioning stations have been strategically positioned throughout the burn area and in surrounding communities to track potentially harmful ultra-small particles in the air.
  • BCPH will review data related to air quality and respiratory illnesses at local hospitals in Boulder County through our syndromic surveillance data system, allowing us to identify air quality-related respiratory illnesses trends proactively.

General guidance:

  • It is important to note that while some websites and weather apps may report air quality to be good or moderate, these sources may be getting their information from monitoring devices that are positioned too far away from the affected areas to provide an accurate reading.
  • People with respiratory illnesses are advised to wear an N95 mask when in the burn areas.
  • Be aware that poor air quality can cause some of the same symptoms as COVID-19. If you are feeling sick, talk to your health care provider and get tested.
  • Get your HVAC ducts professionally cleaned as soon as you can and replace filters as soon as they appear soiled.
    • Use the highest level of filtration recommended by the manufacturer.
    • Consider an activated carbon pre-filter to reduce odors.

During windy days:

  • Limit outdoor activity
  • Do not disturb ash or debris outside
  • Stay inside on windy days
  • Wear an N95 mask if you must be outside during windy days
  • Keep windows and doors closed

The Boulder County community is responding to an unprecedented disaster, an urban fire unlike the country has seen before. We appreciate your patience as we work to ensure the safety and health of our community.