The Hidden Damage Caused by Soot

In the fortunate event a property fire is immediately extinguished, the sooty byproducts left behind by the ravaging flames fail to elicit relief. Fires of any scope result in soot damage. The fine soot particles contaminate the space destroyed by fire and require professional cleanup to circumvent the hidden, damaging effects.

What is soot?

Consisting mainly of carbon, soot particles spring to life after the incomplete combustion of materials, like coal, wood and other similar fuels. Black soot particles are far smaller than human hair, dust and fine beach sand. Despite their tiny size, soot particles teem with chemicals, acids, metals and soils.

Where does soot originate?

A raging fire releases an abundance of soot – but is not the only source of soot. Frequently lighting small candles in indoor environments can produce soot buildup. Unmaintained fireplaces lead to the accumulation of soot particles. Malfunctioning gas or oil boilers also produce large amounts of soot.

How pervasive is soot?

Soot particles may initially develop as gases or solid matter. Once the soot solidifies into particles, they are released into the environment. Given its extremely minute size, soot becomes airborne and travels well beyond its originating location. Soot can infiltrate areas of a home that the fire never touched.

How is indoor air quality affected?

Indoor air quality is compromised when soot particles are left to linger. When excessively lighting candles, for instance, the gentle flames produce what is known as soot ghosting. The term ghosting refers to instances when soot latches onto walls and ceilings, a result of electrostatic pull.

Homeowners fail to realize the extent of candle soot at home until they check the air filter, which likely will be blackened by all the captured soot. Fragrant candles, especially, emit toxic soot. Synthetics used in candles produce soot that contains carcinogens and neurotoxins – stuff no one wants to breathe.

Inefficient furnaces, too, as mentioned, can release toxic soot. The visible soot, which is made up of carbon, potentially releases harmful levels of carbon monoxide gas into the home environment. Inhaling the gases, a byproduct of soot, leads to ill health effects, including flu-like symptoms.

How is health affected by soot?

indoor healthy air

Healthy indoor air

The microscopic size- 2.5 micrometers in diameter – makes it easy to inhale soot particles. Once a person breathes in soot particles, the soot travels straight into the lungs and embeds there. Damage to lungs is a direct consequence of breathing in airborne soot particles.

Soot in the lungs or bloodstream is destructive, especially to children and people with existing respiratory conditions or heart disease. The inhaled soot particles lodge in the lungs and lead to inflammation. Damage to blood vessels also occurs as a consequence of inhaling fine soot particles.

Several respiratory illnesses can develop when an individual inhales soot over a prolonged length of time. Soot-related diseases, like coronary heart disease, cancer, asthma and bronchitis are possible results of sustained exposure to soot particles and breathing in soot-polluted air.

In fact, in the United States alone, approximately 20,000 people prematurely die each year due to soot particle exposure. Contact with excessive soot is also responsible for 300,000 asthma attacks every year. Additionally, workers lose two million work days annually as a result of soot-related respiratory issues.

When soot pollution reduction efforts are implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency, the annual rates of premature deaths, heart attacks, emergency room visits, acute bronchitis and asthma attacks are significantly decreased. Plus, billions of dollars in healthcare costs are saved annually.

What environmental damage results from soot?

People are not the only ones to suffer the consequences of soot pollution. The environment takes a hit when soot blankets the landscape. Environmental destruction occurs as soot pollution damages soil and crop fields. Ecosystems are negatively altered when soot particles modify the balance of nutrients.

Soot compounds, like sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, in conjunction with moisture produce acid rain. Deteriorated water quality is the resulting adverse effect. Lakes and rivers are acidified by soot pollution. Soot particles can be carried by wind and water, which further contaminates the environment.

Soot, also known as black carbon, increases the rates of global warming. Soot particles increase the warming effect of greenhouse gases. Black carbon’s warming effect on the atmosphere makes it a far more powerful contributor to global warming than previously thought by researchers.

With its airborne characteristic and microscopic proportions, soot particles have the ability to travel anywhere, almost undetected—but the hidden damages are clear. Frequent exposure to soot pollution is extremely harmful to human health and a danger to the greater environment.

Soot ghosts become evident when the particles adhere to surfaces. Soot’s sticky nature makes cleaning up the particles a challenging task. In fact, unsuitable cleaning methods only drive the soot particles deeper into surfaces, causing the soot to spread. When soot infiltrates your home, take precaution and hire a reliable fire damage restoration expert to tackle the sticky mess.


Soot and Fire Damage Restoration

ServiceMaster smoke damage cleanupTo ensure your safety and avoid permanent damage to your home and belongings, we recommend leaving soot cleanup to the professionals.

ServiceMaster DAK is a reputable fire damage restoration company with a team of skilled technicians ready to respond to a crisis. No matter whether the fire is due to kitchen grease, a fireplace or an electrical malfunction, ServiceMaster DAK is prepared to address the smoke and soot damage.

Fire and smoke damage restoration services include emergency pre-cleaning, content cleaning, pack out services, wall/ceiling/HVAC cleaning and deodorization. These proven processes are necessary to eliminate the smoke, soot and other byproducts of a fire.

ServiceMaster DAK technicians are highly trained and experienced in cleaning fire and smoke damage. Whether the damage is relatively minor or substantial, specialists have the advanced equipment and skills to return your property to its pre-disaster condition.

Serving the northern Chicago suburbs, ServiceMaster DAK is positioned to provide the most comprehensive fire and smoke damage restoration services. We are standing by 24 hours a day to respond to emergency calls.


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