Pardon me if this is not a correct community to ask this question.

My town was affected by the recent Marshall wildfire in CO. Some streets are gone, it's surreal here. Our street is saved, but there is a lot of ash/soot inside and outside of homes. Because the ash/soot is a product of burning not just grass around the town, but also houses next street, there is a safety concern if this gets inhaled etc.

Is this possible to do a comprehensive test on the contents of the ash/soot to check if this is really not just grass burning product, but also chemicals like insulation materials etc? What else we should test for / be concerned about being in the ash/soot?


  • 2
    Take precautions like masks and eye protection and clean(vacuum, washing). Having it tested will only worry you, since I imagine you are not going to leave the ash/soot around to live with. Rain/snow will wash most of the outside away. Don't breath(too much) or eat the stuff, and most people will be okay. Usually people who work 24/7 are the ones at risk with most stuff, not the odd chance of coming in contact with it.
    – crip659
    Jan 5 at 21:55
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    they don't sell much nasty stuff to consumers these days, thank ROHS and lawyers for that. Anything toxic would be highly diluted by evaporation and mixing with non-toxic yet nasty combustion byproducts from things like siding, pvc, shingles, etc...
    – dandavis
    Jan 6 at 8:18

1 Answer 1


Regardless of the source, you don't want to inhale it, so put a mask on - surely you have some of those after the past two years. And get the place cleaned up - there are professional "fire and water cleanup" or "restoration" services, or you and a HEPA vacuum. And a mop and bucket and a lot of rinsing. And probably replacing any carpets... They have more and larger HEPA vacuums... Start with cleaning space to live while you clean the rest unless you have an alternate place to live (i.e., bathroom, kitchen, 1 other room.)

There's no particular likelihood that your particular soot is not broadly representative of the area burned, rather than being constrained to the neighboring houses to an extent that would make it any more toxic than average. It tends to go up in the air a long ways before it comes down again.

  • Thanks! That's super helpful. Do you know if there is a way to test soot for chemical content?
    – Tagar
    Jan 6 at 0:12
  • @Tagar Can google for testing labs. It probably won't be cheap, so should have a good reason, instead of just wanting to know. Here is a link of what can be found from house fires, not something I want to breath in often. health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/air/smoke_from_fire
    – crip659
    Jan 6 at 1:02
  • @crip659 thanks for the link! There is a some level of panic, including in my family and I would like to understand if this is justified.
    – Tagar
    Jan 6 at 1:35
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    Dihydrogen Monoxide is found in all homes and probably used to fight the fires. Usually safe, but if you ingest enough it can cause death. Very few things will cause death or sickness in small amounts. Should be aware of them and limit the amount breath or ingested.
    – crip659
    Jan 6 at 4:25

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