On December 30, 2021, the Marshall Fire burned large portions of Superior and Louisville, Colorado, devastating our local community. The fire led to the loss of ~1000 structures, mostly single-family homes, making it one of the most destructive and costly fire events in US history. The costs to the health and well-being of the individuals affected by the fire are incalculable. The Marshall Fire may also have longer-term consequences for environmental quality in the area. In particular, the burning of homes and other structures may have led to the widespread contamination of surrounding soils. However, the magnitude of the potential soil contamination and the specific nature of the soil contaminants are unknown.
The objective of this project is to assess whether the Marshall Fire resulted in the contamination of soils in the fire-affected area – an important question for residents looking to rebuild, as well as those in areas that may be affected by future fires. We will sample soils from fire-affected properties and neighboring properties that were not directly damaged during the fire event to compare levels of heavy metals (including lead, mercury, nickel, and copper) and other soil pollutants.
Unfortunately, we are no longer looking for volunteers to participate in this study. We already have far more properties than we can include in the study given funding and logistical constraints. If you have already signed up to participate in the study, we will be reaching out to you shortly to let you know if your property has been selected for sampling.
Who We Are
The research team consists of individuals who are part of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO), and the Environmental Studies Department (ENVS) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
See our FAQ page for more information about this project. We note that your participation in this project will incur no cost to you and minimal time commitment. Importantly, any information regarding the extent of soil contamination on individual properties will not be shared publicly or shared with any other entities. However, if your property is selected for inclusion in this study, you will be able to view results from your own property.