Fire



Every year millions of fires take place around the world. The high-temperature combustion of materials in buildings produces highly toxic smoke and soot.

Formed during combustion, Aromatic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), if not eliminated during decontamination, can eventually, through chronic exposure, have a serious impact on the health of the occupants.


For instance, in a house where there was a fire in the kitchen on the ground floor, toxic fumes will have spread to the upstairs bedrooms even though the flames spared them. Similarly, in a building, a fire in your downstairs neighbor’s apartment can contaminate your apartment.

Invisible to the naked eye, toxic substances spread throughout the building where a disaster has occurred.

YOOTEST is able to provide you as promptly as possible with laboratory analyses to determine the areas polluted by toxic markers of PAHs or VOCs fires.

You can ask the insurance company that covers your home to take on the costs of these tests.

Contact YOOTEST to receive a letter requesting coverage.


Why do fires produce significant indoor air pollution?

During a fire the temperature can reach 750 to 1800°F (400 to 1000°C). Large quantities of combustion products are formed and generate high pollution of the indoor environment.

The composition of the fire residues depends on the combustion conditions and the nature of the materials: wood, plastics, polymers, metals, solvents, etc.

The main combustion products formed during fires include:

  • Gases: CO2, CO, HCl, HCN, H2S, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Liquids and solids: Soot & Fine Particles, Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (COSV)

How to measure pollution after a fire?

Most of the chemical compounds formed during combustion are present after the fire. Among the combustion residues, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are very persistent in the indoor environment and are the main markers of pollution from a fire.

These substances are used to assess indoor air quality and the health risks associated with chronic exposure to PAHs


When to perform an indoor air quality test after a fire?

Immediately after the fire:

Carrying out a PAH measurement allows you to know if the health risk thresholds are exceeded. If this is the case, it is then imperative to leave the premises to avoid exposing yourself to serious health risks and it is urgent to ask your home insurance company to relocate you.

 

At least 1 month after the end of the decontamination, cleaning and renovation work:

Carry out a PAH measurement to determine whether the work has made it possible to limit pollution to levels without any proven risk to the health of the occupants. If your home is still polluted, the decontamination and cleaning operations must be repeated.


What are the health risks after a fire?

Light PAHs are present as gases in the air. Like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), they are irritating to mucous membranes: nose, mouth, eyes, respiratory tract. Prolonged exposure can produce inflammation of the airways and breathing difficulties (asthma).

Heavy PAHs are mainly present in the particulate phase, i.e. attached to dust particles. In general, fine particles are irritating to the respiratory tract and can accumulate in the respiratory system (lungs and pulmonary alveoli).

Most PAHs are substances classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO. It is therefore essential to monitor the presence of these toxic substances in the indoor environment and take action to limit exposure as much as possible.

Hormones are the chemical messengers in the body. They are present in very small quantities and allow a fine regulation of the body's cellular functioning. PAHs are suspected to be endocrine disrupters, i.e. substances that affect human health by altering hormone function. Due to the low concentration of hormones in the body, endocrine disruptors can act as early as at very low doses and alter the production, regulation, transport and action of natural hormones.

As a result of their action at low doses, the mere presence of PAHs in the environment is likely to have health effects.


Which indoor air analysis kit to use after a fire?


 

You can ask the insurance company that covers your home to cover these tests.

Contact YOOTEST to receive a letter requesting coverage.