Marshall Fire Air Quality Response

Where: Louisville and Superior, Colorado

When: January 2022

How: Mobile Lab-based measurements

Who: Researchers from the NOAA Chemical Sciences Laboratory (CSL) and the University of Colorado Boulder Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

When the Marshall Fire tore through Superior and Louisville on 30 December 2021, it destroyed more than 1,000 homes and damaged nearly 150 others. At the request from Boulder County Public Health and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, investigators drove the mobile laboratory through neighborhoods to understand the lingering effects of smoke in outdoor air quality.

Investigators are looking at how atmospheric chemistry changes depending on area and proximity to burned homes, time of day, the wind (which can whip up soot and other debris), and other factors, and gauging what some of the pollutant sources are within the burn area.

Mobile Lab measurements in burn zone
Mobile lab at one of the burn sites. Photo: Jessica Gilman, NOAA