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The Dangers of Smoke and Soot After a Fire Outbreak
The Dangers of Smoke and Soot After a Fire Outbreak
February 25, 2021
Most property owners think that the damages associated with fire are only limited to rising flames. That’s not true. Fire damage extends beyond the blazing fire. The smoke and soot that’s released from fire continue to damage the space even after the firefighting team has put down the flames.
Smoke and soot are also quick to spread throughout the property. Even before the fire becomes destructive, the entire area can be invaded by smoke. The particles and their associated odor will linger for a long time. They will turn the walls and ceilings dark and penetrate deep into surfaces. Cleaning and eliminating the smoke and soot can be a huge challenge. You need professional assistance to get rid of these agents.
Effective cleaning and removal is not the only reason you should seek a professional smoke damage cleaning service, though. Your own safety is the most important factor. This guide will take you through the dangers of smoke and soot that are released during a fire incident. But before we go into that, let’s understand what is smoke and soot.
What is Smoke?
Smoke is a complex mixture of fine particles and gases released by the fire. During a given fire outbreak, it will spread faster than the fire itself and quickly invade the entire area. The exact composition of the rising smoke will depend on the temperature of the flames, the items being burned, and the moisture content in the burning pieces.
Smoke often also contains trace minerals, carbon dioxide, water vapor, as well as harmful agents such as acrolein, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.
Besides, there are two types of smoke-dry and wet. Dry smoke occurs from the combustion of wood and paper. This type of combustion is characterized by high temperatures and fast-burning. In contrast, wet smoke occurs from the combustion of rubber and plastic. This type of smoke is smeary and sticky with a pungent odor and is more difficult to clean.
What is Soot?
Soot, on the other hand, is made of tiny carbon particles released from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as wood, coal, oil, etc. It’s a fine brown or black powder that tends to be slightly sticky. It carries a myriad of chemicals, acids, dust, soils, and metals. During a house fire, soot spreads throughout the house, leading to a foul smell and an ugly sight to the affected surfaces. If not cleaned immediately, it will pollute the indoor air quality of the property.
However, a fire incident is not the only reason for soot invasions. If your home contains a fireplace and you fail to ensure proper ventilation, it will release soot. Likewise, excessive use of candles may also lead to soot contamination. In addition, when furnaces produce a puff back, they can also be a source f soot buildup.
While individual soot particles are typically microscopic (smaller than dust), you can spot accumulated soot by looking for dark residue on fire-damaged surfaces. You may also sniff out the soot to locate it.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what they are let's examine the dangers of smoke and soot.
The Dangers of Smoke and Soot
When trapped in a fire-damaged space, a person can easily get exposed to smoke and soot. They can enter an individual’s body through skin and eyes, ingestion, and inhalation. If exposure to high levels of smoke can’t be avoided, individuals are advised to limit their physical exertion. The health-related dangers of each include:
Health Impact of Smoke
Those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, infants, seniors, young children, and fetuses are more susceptible to the health effects of smoke. Insignificant smoke inhalation can lead to immediate acute effects, such as irritation to the eyes, throat, and nose. Plus, its odor can be nauseating. Based on research, exposure to heavy smoke can cause temporary changes in lung function in certain people, which in turn leads to breathing difficulties.
One of the most dangerous agents in smoke is carbon monoxide gas. Inhaling it can significantly reduce your body’s oxygen supply. When that happens, you may experience reduced alertness and severe headaches. If you’re suffering from angina (a heart condition), carbon monoxide inhalation can exacerbate the condition. Even when the exposure stops, the symptoms will persist for around a couple of days.
Besides, exposure to the components of smoke also has the potential for chronic health impacts. Frequent exposure for brief durations has also been linked to long-term medical conditions. That's the reason why diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and lung disease are common problems for firefighters. More investigation and research is required in this area, though.
Health Effects of Soot
According to a recent study, particle exposure results in 20,000 deaths in the US every year. One of the major culprits among them is soot, exposure to which causes two million lost workdays and 300,000 asthma attacks annually.
Once the toxic soot particles enter your body, they can cause breathing issues, coronary heart disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer and significantly restrict your ability to carry out normal activities. Elderly and infants remain most vulnerable to these problems.
In summary, smoke and soot are more harmful than most homeowners realize. They can lead to serious short-term and chronic health conditions to those exposed to them. Moreover, they can be extremely difficult to remove and clean, considering the fact that they have a way of seeping into the deepest, darkest corners of your home.
To ensure your and your family’s safety, we recommend you give us a call and let us guide you on how to remove residual smoke and soot effectively, regardless of where you are in Tennessee. From products to use all the way to techniques and crannies to look into, our experts can help you stay safe and even guide you about the costs that may be involved in bringing your place to its former glory.