After a structure fire or wildfire, toxic byproducts are created as the multitude of building materials and other fuels burn and combust. These byproducts generate volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and toxic microscopic particulate matter which are extremely dangerous to your health and safety. In order to determine what types of contaminants are present within the indoor air and the correct processes to remove them, a post-fire particulate and VOC test needs to be performed.
All too often uneducated restoration practitioners use deodorizers that camouflage smoke odors or treat them with ozone, which can create additional chemical reactions and health risks. Rarefied Air Environmental is the only independent testing lab that has the technology and experience to test for fire VOC’s and provide a comprehensive remediation protocol that restoration contractors can use to restore a building to its pre-loss condition.
With wildfires occurring closer and closer to residential areas, effects from smoke and debris resulting from fires and their aftermaths are affecting people and their buildings more than ever before.
Fire and smoke damage is not only limited to ascetic issues. Smoke is able to permeate through walls, ceilings, floors and contents and can cause serious health issues and in some cases, even death. Negative health effects of wood smoke inhalation range from acute irritation, inflammatory responses, asthma triggers, and immune system suppression to changes in lung function, reduced lung function capacity, and chronic illnesses like, bronchitis, obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac disease and cancers of the lung, skin and bladder.
Wildfire smoke contains a number of products that of incomplete combustion. The two main components of wildfire, ash and char, may contain heavy metals, PAHs, and dioxins and furans. Since most combustibles contain substances that were not meant to combust, they become extremely dangerous when they do burn. Items like plastics, carpets, fabrics wool and foams are a few examples of items that can have lingering effects on indoor air quality, long after the actual fire.
Fire and smoke damage not only create toxic indoor air quality, but can cause severe structural damage to buildings. Since fire and smoke can create extreme heat, it can damage structural areas like the foundation and frame of a building, without necessarily leaving any visual damage.
Particulate analysis of soot, char and ash can help identify whether the range of wildfire residue falls between normal and uncommon to determine whether or not cleaning is needed.
After a fire, it is important to have your home or building inspected by a trained professional, since fire VOCs can still affect indoor air quality and pose health risks to inhabitants, even if it seems like everything is cleaned up.