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Dangers Of Smoke And Soot After Fire Damage

Fire damage can continue to affect you and your home long after the flames have been put out. Smoke and soot residue left over after a fire may seem like something you can clean yourself, but before you try to tackle any DIY fire damage restoration, you should be aware of all the dangers of smoke and soot left behind after a fire.

Leftover smoke and soot are more than just dirty and smelly – they are very dangerous. Exposure to smoke and soot can cause some major adverse health reactions, especially if that exposure is prolonged throughout a DIY restoration process. In fact, soot is so dangerous that exposure to it leads to the first-ever occupation of health legislation. In the 18th century, the British Parliament installed the Chimney Sweepers Act in response to all the adverse reactions that are associated with smoke and soot, including cancer. So, what is it about smoke and soot that makes it so dangerous?

Not all materials burn the same in a fire. Materials that do not burn clean result in waste products, whether solids, liquids, or gases, that contain chemicals and toxins. Exposure to these contaminants is very harmful to your health. Items like plastic, fabric, carpet, wood, wool, and the drywall and insulation in the walls hold a lot of different chemicals that are released when combustion occurs during a fire. Smoke and soot are the leftover by-products of those materials, which make them hazardous. The most common toxins found in smoke and soot following a fire include:

  • Carbon materials that can produce carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxide
  • Asbestos that can cause mesothelioma
  • Hydrogen chloride, bromomethane, and halocarbons
  • Hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide that forms from sulfur
  • Smoke from wood that contains hundreds of chemicals that are also found in cigarette smoke
  • Formaldehyde, ketones, carboxylic acids, and more than partial oxidation of hydrocarbons produce

Following a fire, you can be exposed to smoke and soot through direct contact and inhalation. Airborne soot particles are microscopic, so you may think the air is safe to breathe when really it is contaminated. Wiping down smoke and soot residue disrupts the particle, causing them to be inhaled also. Even exposure to your skin by trying to clean them up on your own can cause health symptoms. Some common side effects of smoke and soot exposure are:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Irritation to eyes, nose, and throat
  • Rashes on skin
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Cancer

In infants, the elder, and those with who are chronically ill, these side effects are even more serious. In fact, infants who have been exposed to smoke and soot chemicals and residue could have lifelong consequences and risk complications with their developing respiratory symptoms. 

Fire Damage In St. Paul

Adequate personal protective equipment and proper cleaning methods are required to safely clean up soot and smoke from fire damage. To ensure that you, and your family, are not exposed to the harm caused by smoke and soot residues, fire damage cleanup and restoration should not be attempted on your own. Instead, if your home in St. Paul suffers from fire damage, you should call ICC right away. With the proper equipment, training, and techniques, our team will safely and thoroughly remove smoke and soot, and restore your home after fire damage