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House fires pose many significant risks to your health and safety, but what many people don’t know is that danger isn’t necessarily over once the flames are put out. The entire home may now be full of soot, which creates a whole new set of issues. What is soot and why is it dangerous? Hopefully this helpful post can answer your questions!

What is soot?

Soot is made up of minuscule particles of carbon left over from incomplete combustion of various fossil fuels, including wood, oil and coal. This is just a fancy way of saying that it is the tiny bits left behind when something has burned. It’s a pitch black material with a foul smell, and chances are, you’ve seen it before if you’ve ever witnessed the aftermath of a burned building. While a fire is active, soot spreads throughout the house, landing on various surfaces and continuing to cause damage if not immediately and thoroughly removed, due to the acidic properties contained inside.

Soot is also released indoors by excessive candle usage, poorly ventilated fireplaces, and furnaces that are ill-maintained and lead to puff back, a type of explosion from oil buildup. Outdoors, fossil fuel burning releases soot into the air and damage the surrounding ecosystem, which is similar to what happens in your home by affecting air quality and leaving odors and stains behind.

What are the dangers of soot?

Particle exposure is the source of 20,000 deaths each year in the United States, and many of these are caused by soot. It also causes 300,000 asthma attacks each year and 2 million lost workdays from respiratory issues. Soot enters the body from inhalation, through your skin and eyes, or even by being ingested. As you’ve seen, this can lead to serious breathing issues, especially for those who already have chronic breathing problems, infants, and the elderly. The list of potential problems includes asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and even cancer.

How should soot be cleaned?

Clearly, soot is a substance that should be avoided in any significant quantities, and must be removed from your home as quickly as possible. But what does cleaning up soot require?

The first thing you need to know is that not all soot is created equal. Soot formed from synthetic materials like plastic, foam, synthetic fabric, and even carpet releases chemicals that make a hazardous environment for fire restoration. Soot can also spread through the HVAC system in your home to rooms that were not initially affected by a smaller fire, exacerbating the damage.

It is incredibly important to wear proper safety equipment while dealing with soot- equipment that protects not only your skin but also your eyes and lungs. The air quality should also be restored with techniques like air scrubbing and thermal fogging.

It is not enough to tie a rag over your face and use a normal household cleaner! Soot needs specialized removal by trained experts in order to prevent ongoing damage to not only your home, but also your health. It is a job that should be left to the experts in order to ensure your continued safety.

If you have questions about soot, fire damage, or continued cleanup, please contact us at the Flood Medix! Our trained team of fire restoration experts will be there for you every step of the way.