Impact of forest fires on indoor air quality in California


As every year, fires devastate hundreds of hectares of forests in California. These fires generate large quantities of smoke loaded with toxic ash and combustion residues such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemical molecules are identified by health authorities as carcinogenic to humans and toxic to the environment.

The fumes from forest fires pollute many residential and office buildings every year.

As the flames approach the buildings, soot infiltrates into homes and offices. They are loaded with PAHs such as benzo(a)pyrene (CAS 50-32-8).

These soot deposits on the outside and sticks to the soles of the shoes. They can therefore pollute the indoor air in homes and offices through shoes.

Smoke and soot contain PAH substances that are toxic and carcinogenic to humans

The largest and most recent fires in California occurred in July 2018 (185,000 ha) in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, Glenn counties, in December 2017 (114,000 ha) in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties or in July 2018 (92,000 ha) in Shasta and Trinity counties.

Buildings located in these counties and in the vicinity of burned areas must first diagnose the presence of fire residues in indoor air in order to exclude any risk to the health of occupants and act if contamination levels are high.


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