Dangers of Smoke and Soot to Your Health
As the old saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire. Everyone is well-aware of the effects a fire can have on a home or other structure, but very few people consider the effects of the smoke and soot created by the fire. While the flames will inevitably burn everything they touch and serious damage (if not destroy) the home, smoke, and soot also need to be considered in a post-fire cleanup effort.
Once the fire has been extinguished, the cleanup and restoration processes can begin. The items and parts of the house which will need to be replaced or seriously repaired will be obvious, but other aspects of the cleanup may be less so. Smoke and soot left after the flames are gone will leave a lasting effect as well that will need to be handled by professional restoration experts such as ours at Restoration 1 of Greater Minneapolis. We understand the dangers and issues which accompany smoke and soot after a fire, and our dedicated technicians are here to help you recover from the fire, including taking care of health and safety issues posed by smoke and soot.
After the fire subsides and is no longer a threat, the smoke and the damage it causes is often the remaining issue. The level of contamination from the smoke can be immense and have severe effects on your home and your family. One physical issue associated with smoke is the visible discoloration – usually a yellow stain – it leaves on walls, ceilings, and hard surfaces such as countertops. For metal surfaces, rust and corrosion may eventually begin to set in if the smoke residue is not lifted from that material.
Another concern stemming from smoke after a house fire is the absorption of a smoky odor by certain surfaces such as fabric furniture. The smell of smoke is produced by the absorption of carbon particles in the air known as soot. Once these particles soak into the fabric, the smell is trapped in the pores of the wood and the finish of the furniture. It will take dedication to clean to eliminate that smell; one attempt is unlikely to rid your home of the odor.
There are some other more dangerous issues with residual smoke as well. Electrical components such as wiring, outlets, switches, fuses, and breaker boxes can all be affected by smoke, and the appliances connected to the electrical system may end up corroding, short-circuiting, malfunctioning, or failing due to the smoke damage.
Another issue will be the airflow throughout your home. You may find smoke damage in rooms of the house which you thought were untouched by the fire. A forced-air system will allow smoke to enter the ductwork, and particles and odors may be trapped within the ducts. Door openings, too, can allow smoke to be filtered into rooms that were not affected by the flames. All of these smoke-related issues in your home need to be remedied before your home can be considered liveable, so you must have an experienced restoration team such as ours at Restoration 1 of Greater Minneapolis to help you restore your home.
Following a fire, particulates known as soot will likely be floating through the air, but you will not be able to see them. Exposure to soot can occur through the skin, eyes, inhalation, and ingestion, and this exposure can be toxic for you, your family, and your pets. Once soot enters your bloodstream, you may end up with a variety of medical issues including respiratory conditions, shortness of breath, bronchitis, asthma, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and death.
Although soot may not seem like the most serious aspect of the fire, there may be a variety of extremely harmful and toxic materials within the soot. Asbestos, which causes mesothelioma, may be present if the building materials were dated from the 1950s to-1980s the Carbon-based materials can produce carbon monoxide, hydrogen, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and tar. PVC and sulfur can create a variety of extremely hazardous chemicals, and even wood smoke that may be released shares over 100 chemicals which can also be found in cigarette smoke.
Soot is not something to be ignored or pushed to the side during a cleanup. The acidic residue of soot can even permanently tarnish or discolor countertops. Imagine what soot could do to your health if not cleaned properly!
At Restoration 1 of Greater Minneapolis, our fire damage restoration experts are here to take the stress away from you, the homeowner, during the cleanup process after your traumatic fire event. We want to make the process as easy as possible for you, which means we’ll keep you up to date on the progress so you have an idea when your home or office will be habitable again. We’ll also assist with insurance claims. Call us at 612-268-5789 in the Greater Minneapolis area.