During a house fire, the greatest dangers that the occupants of the house will be faced with are the actual fire and the accompanying soot. Once the fire has been contained, there will also be a need for the soot to be removed before people can resume the normal use of the house.
When not dealt with properly, soot will not only come with the potential of affecting the health of the occupants, but also it may spread throughout the structures, corroding everything that it comes into contact with.
As such, once the fire is out, you must then be serious with the elimination of smoke odors and any elements of soot. In this article, we’ll look at how harmful soot is to your home, and what you need to do in case you experience a fire and have to deal with the aftermath of soot.
What is soot?
Soot refers to the residue that is normally left when fossil fuels have not been completely combusted. It usually comprises tiny carbon particles that may feature metals, dust, soils, chemicals, and acids. Due to its chemical composition, soot is usually black, and depending on the density, it may be light or sticky.
In most fire incidences at home, the homes usually contain several plastics and other synthetics that are primarily made from oil. In case of a fire, these materials will burn, spreading smoke and soot to a place far from the original place where the fire started. This means that soot can be spread to homes or buildings that never experienced the fire. It is also possible for soot to inhibit homes where there has never been a fire in the neighborhood.
For example, excessive use of candles, excessive smoking, or cooking with poorly-burning cookers can also lead to soot formation in some rooms within the home.
Toxic materials present in soot
The toxic composition of soot is the primary reason why you should never attempt to clear them by yourself. This is because you will be exposing yourself to lots of harmful chemicals that might harm your health and those around you in a number of ways. Consequently, following a fire incident, be sure to call the right experts for professional elimination of bad odors and soot. Here is a brief look at some of the toxic materials that may be present in soot following a fire incident:
- Hydrogen chloride, chloromethane, and halocarbons from PVCs
- Mesothelioma? (I think mesothelioma is a health condition that results from asbestos exposure, not something found directly in soot) from burning asbestos
- Partially oxidized hydrocarbons such as formaldehyde, cresols, carboxylic acid, and phenols
- Hundreds of harmful chemicals from wood
Real health hazards of soot
It goes without saying that inhaling soot will, without a doubt, affect your health in a number of ways, owing to the harmful chemical composition of the substance. Here is an overview of some of the various ways that soot can harm your health:
The particles and chemicals contained in the soot can cause a lung condition known as bronchitis, which normally leads to the inflammation of the bronchioles, making it difficult for you to breathe normally.
Also, if you were already suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma, breathing in soot may aggravate such conditions, compelling you to make an emergency trip to the hospital for difficultybreathing. The soot particles will not only get into your lungs, but also find their way into the bloodstream, where they might cause a myriad of blood-related complications.
Shortness of breath
Taking in soot as you inhale make cause you to have constricted breathing, making you start coughing or even develop conditions such as asthma. If you had small babies or infants exposed to soot, they may have a permanent alteration to their respiratory systems, with potential lifelong respiratory complications.
When you inhale smoke and soot, your body will be deprived of oxygen. If this happens when the fire is still on, the flames will take up all the oxygen, leaving you with none to breathe. Also, carbon monoxide gas will compete with oxygen, thus getting into your blood system, depriving vital body organs of oxygen. Both these will leave you gasping for air as you take in more and more toxins.
In the absence of a good quality supply of oxygen, the air around that you breathe will be full of toxic chemicals that may not only irritate your skin but also will irritate your respiratory tract. The chemicals may end up causing swelling and other types of inflammation in the victim’s airways, leading to a complete collapse of the respiratory system. Some of these harmful chemicals include sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia.
An asphyxiant refers to a gas that may make someone go unconscious and die through suffocation. One good example of such a gas is carbon monoxide – one of the leading causes of death during smoke and fire incidences. When you inhale smoke or soot, there are very good chances that you may harm the heart, lungs and aggravate any pre-existing conditions that you might be having. This is why you should always avoid fires and spending a lot of time in places with smoke or soot.
You have probably had your eyes get teary whenever you come into contact with the smoke, and your nose also starting to run. If you were to stay in such an environment for a long time, there could be serious damage to your eyes.
As you will be trying to rub your eyes to ease the pain, you will be creating more surfaces for the chemicals to come into proper contact with your eyes. Sometimes it may be so severe that you may have to see a doctor to treat the irritation.
With all the associated dangers of smoke and soot exposure, this is something you must never entertain within your living spaces. For fast, quick, and professional bad odor elimination in the Montreal area and elimination of soot from buildings, be sure to contact KBS Maintenance. We are experts in smoke removal and we will be more than glad to help you restore your living spaces back to normal.