With the recent wave of fires throughout California, you may be concerned about fire-related residues deposited on HVAC interior surfaces. Some common indicators suggesting the presence of fire-related particles include:

  1. Char: Char consists of irregular shaped fragments of combusted material greater than one micron in size. Using a light microscope, microscopists are able to identify char and differing fuel sources that will produce char particles with different morphologies.
  2. Ash: Ash particles consists of fuel material that has had almost all of the organic material burned away, leaving inorganic remnants that re often crystalline.
  3. Soot: Soot particles are smaller particles formed from incompletely combusted, volatile fuel material and considered a secondary indicator of fire residue. Soot particles may darken the surface of a wipe sample and they can cluster to form agglomerates as large as 1 mm.

Some of the types of chemicals found in homes following a structure fire include:

  1. Benzene – a carcinogen that may lead to acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  2. Arsenic – an extremely toxic poison that can occur through inhalation or dermal absorption.
  3. Sulfur Dioxide — Sulfur dioxide can cause breathing difficulty, airways inflammation, psychic alterations, pulmonary edema, heat failure and circulatory collapse. It is also associated with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and mortality increases for both the elderly and infants.

How is Particulate Fire Testing Performed?                  

Surface samples are collected to determine the presence of soot/char/ash. Trained analysts can use appropriate light microscopy to identify soot and to differentiate it from dirt or char particles. If primary indicators, like char, are present, the standard does not require analysis of a secondary indicator (soot).

During the sampling process, fire-related particle material on HVAC interior surfaces can be tested in the same way as surface sampling for mold. “Clear” or “Crystal clear” ¾-inch wide and 2-inch long transparent tape is pressed down on a relatively smooth area that is likely to have deposited car or soot particles.

After the particulate fire testing process is performed, the samples will be sent for laboratory analysis to detect whether or not there are fire-related particles present.

Why should I have my home or building tested for fire-related particles?

San Diego and other areas of California, and the United States, have been ravaged by the steadily-increasing number of catastrophic scale wildfires in recent years. As a result, fire-related particle testing has become more in-demand than ever before. With that, families and business owners alike want to make sure their families and property are safe from potentially harmful health conditions that may result from fire damage. Likewise, the rising number of disputes over insurance coverage for fire damages arise as a result of “partial losses”, which includes visible fire damage, as well as, smoke and water damage.

If you believe your home or building may be affected by fire damage, you should contact Rarefied Air Environmental today! Our experienced and professional technicians can test your home and building for harmful fire-particle damage and help you develop a remediation plan to quickly and completely remove any and all hazardous smoke particles. Call us today for a free quote!

Do I Need Particulate Fire Testing?