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Boulder County provides real-time air quality data for Marshall Fire area

The county has installed 25 air monitors to provide real-time data throughout the affected area and surrounding communities.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A new online tool lets people access real-time alerts and information about air quality in the Marshall Fire burn area, Boulder County said Monday.

Boulder County Public Health said they have installed 25 air monitors throughout the affected area and surrounding communities. These monitors use solar power and cellular technology to provide instant, accurate information about air quality conditions, the county said. Among the 25 are dedicated monitors for each of the schools near the burn area.

People can use a map on the county's website to select a specific monitor and get a current, at-a-glance update regarding the air quality in and around their designated location.

People can also sign up on the website to receive real-time text message or email alerts if air quality becomes potentially harmful.

> See the map and list of monitors, and sign up for alerts

The county said the monitors track the volume of ultrafine pollutants called particulate matter. These particles are 2.5 microns or less in width – about 30 times smaller than a strand of hair.

Monitoring results are presented in alignment with the Environmental Protection Agency’s U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI), which uses a measurement from 0 to 500. The higher the number, the higher the air pollution detected and the greater the potential health risk. For example, the county said, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, an AQI value above 100 means air quality is unhealthy and an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. 

The county reminds people that while some other websites and weather apps report air quality, those sources may be getting data from monitoring devices located too far away to provide an accurate reading. The county's particulate monitors are placed in and around the burn areas to ensure they are collecting the most accurate information available.

RELATED: VOC levels in Marshall Fire area similar to ordinary urban air pollution, NOAA finds

RELATED: Homes affected by Marshall Fire need cleaning from smoke, ash

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