Dealing with a house fire is stressful for everyone involved. Not only do you have to deal with the loss of property and the clean-up afterward, but also the health effects long after the fire has been put out. Leftover smoke and soot following a fire are more than just smelly and unsightly. Exposure to both can adversely affect your health.
Today’s modern homes hold an array of chemicals including plastics, foams, fabrics, carpets, wood products, and synthetic fabrics, which could result in health hazards that make fire restoration a dangerous and difficult task. When combustion occurs during a fire, not all of these materials burn cleanly, resulting in remaining smoke and soot. These waste products may be composed of various chemicals that are harmful to your health.
What Is Soot?
The residue, more commonly known as soot, is what’s left when fossil fuels like wood, coal, and oil haven’t completely burned. This is why oil and chemical fires produce such thick black smoke. Many items in modern homes contain plastic and other synthetics, which are made from oil. When this fuel burns, the carbon-based materials float through the air and spread further than the original scene of the fire.
Soot can also be produced by a fireplace that has insufficient ventilation. Over time byproducts build up inside the chimney and can cause soot when the fireplace is used. Soot also has an odor that smells like smoke or burnt materials. When the soot spreads around your property after a fire, the unpleasant odor often spreads with it.
The Dangers of Smoke and Soot
If you think the dangers are over once the flames from a fire have been extinguished, you’re wrong. The black residue covering walls, ceilings, and furnishings is not only hard to clean, but it’s a health hazard. Exposure to smoke and soot during fire restoration may occur via the skin and eyes, inhalation, and ingestion. Those most at risk when exposed to smoke and soot include children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Soot spreads widely and sticks to every exposed surface, creating a larger contamination area. Soot and smoke can cause serious damage to the surfaces it sticks to, and this damage can quickly become permanent. If it reaches the building’s HVAC system, it can spread even further through the structure. If the soot and smoke damage are not cleaned quickly and correctly, the following health hazards can occur.
1. Lung Disorders: The particles inhaled can cause bronchitis and other lung issues, as well as aggravating current conditions like asthma. Not only are soot particles small enough to embed within the lungs, but some can enter the bloodstream. Exposure to these particles has been linked to heart attacks in people with pre-existing heart disease.
2. Shortness of Breath. Breathing may become more difficult, causing you to cough and develop asthma from the smoke. In infants, even short-term exposure to soot has been shown to permanently alter developing respiratory systems.
3. Dry Skin. Both smoke and soot contain harmful irritants that may lead to dryness, rashes, and irritated skin. Regular lotions will not be able to treat dry skin exposed to smoke and soot.
4. Eye Problems. The longer your eyes interact with the smoke, the more damage is done. The particles within the smoke can make your eyes dry, itchy, red, and uncomfortable.
5. Long-Term Health. Your long-term health will be affected by smoke in numerous ways, including an increased risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack, and even developmental disabilities among young children and teenagers.
The Fire Restoration Experts
The sooner you can address your soot and smoke damage after a fire, the better off your entire home and health will be. It’s important to remove soot as soon as possible to restore damaged items. It’s more important to do it correctly. Using a professional soot and smoke damage restoration company is the best decision.
If you experience a fire on your property call St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration for the best fire damage restoration services available. Our highly skilled technicians can remove soot from a wide variety of surfaces, including porcelain, metal, ceramics, crystal, and much more. We use the most effective products and equipment available in the industry to safely clean these items before the damage becomes permanent.
Call us as soon as possible after a fire. Don’t wait and cause more damage to your property and health. Fires don’t make appointments and neither do you. Our expert cleaners are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us as soon as the firefighters leave your premises to get started immediately.