Is Soot Really A Health Hazard?

Restoration professionals must make it a practice to analyze all the substances that they are cleaning, particularly when it is about fire loss.

Here, let us analyze why we must take necessary precaution while removing soot from walls. Soot is smoke residue left on surface which is a potential health risk for restorers.

What’s burning?

Burning does not take place equally for all material. Most materials may not burn cleanly, create odor and residue.

However, alcohol lamp or a propane torch may burn cleanly and does not produce noticeable residue or odor. The kind of materials burning, oxygen availability and combustion temperature etc. have significant effect on the residues related to fire.

Fire that lacks oxygen may produce a range of compounds, that may be toxic. If carbon is partially oxidized, it can produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen may yield hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide and ammonia.

PVC producing chlorine or any other halogen can produce hydrogen chloride, dioxin, phosgene, bromomethane, chloromethane and other halocarbons.

You may sum it up that you must be careful and don’t say it is just soot or smoke.

Take it seriously

People were aware about occupational hazards due to soot from many years back and there are few old historical evidences available for that e.g.

  • British Parliament passing Chimney Sweepers Act in 1788.
  • English Factory Acts in 1833

Do you know wood smoke can produce more than hundred chemicals which is common in cigarette smoke? Few airborne particulates remain invisible.

Soot in the outdoors is usually regulated by EPA which is classified as “criteria pollutant” by EPA, which is air pollutant and an agency has established National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Safety procedures

We can get exposure to soot by:

  • Inhalation
  • Through skin
  • Eyes and ingestion.

It is almost impossible keeping toxic materials contained, but important to remove all contaminated air from work area and allow clean air to replace it by ventilation. You can also wear appropriate protective equipment.

You can also use proper ventilation, filtration and adsorption to restore air quality of indoor following fire or smoke damage.

Also, it is necessary to create awareness level by combination of both internal and also external factors like:

  • Experiences
  • Suggestions
  • Imaginations
  • Impressions
  • Monetary motivation

Also, raise awareness about soot hazards by offering nitrile gloves and proper dust masks to your workers etc.

Under the insurance policy terms, repair of any structural components in the personal property is also covered.

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