Smoke and Soot Removal by ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery

Health Hazards Caused by Smoke Damage

Steve VanDenBerg Blog

Finding smoke damage on your property from a recent fire is stressful. In most cases, homeowners are not financially prepared to take on the expenses of fire damage restoration, especially if they don’t have insurance to cover it.

So many people decide to handle the cleanup work themselves. But just as you get to work, you notice that not only are the products not working, but the smoke and soot byproducts are triggering a number of health issues.

The list below includes the health hazards caused by smoke damage:

• Emphysema
• Chronic Bronchitis
• Eye Irritation
• Skin Issues


Emphysema is commonly linked to smoking and it can also occur to people living in an unsanitary environment. It’s known to attack the small air sacs in the lungs, limiting the person’s capability to breathe, even crippling the organ. Over time, the lungs lose their elasticity, causing the individual to suffer from permanent lung damage. While there is no cure, treatment will slow down the spread of the disease.

Chronic Bronchitis

The bronchial tubes are what bring air into and out of the lungs, but when they become swollen or inflamed, the individual is suffering from bronchitis. Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis will not go away right away; it can take months or even years to treat.

During bronchitis infections, the swollen bronchial tubes develop mucus in the airways, hindering the individual’s breathing. It may even lead to emphysema.

Eye Irritation

If you were in the house or building at the time of the fire, you may suffer from eye irritation. The soot and smoke damage will cause your eyes to water and itch, making them very uncomfortable. Even after the smoke dissipates, the problem will not go away on its own. It’s highly recommended to see a medical professional for eye drops.

Skin Issues

The soot left behind from the fire will cause skin irritation if you come into direct contact with it. Touching the soot directly can also cause additional damage to the building structure and contents. The dryness will come from the floating smoke particles in the air, making this issue too complex to treat with lotion.

The Dangers of Smoke and Soot

The smoke and soot byproducts that linger in the living space are more problematic than just the odor. Exposure to these toxins can take a major toll on the health and safety of everyone in the Smoke Damage Restoration with ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recoveryhome or building. This is especially true for children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

What Makes Smoke and Soot Dangerous?

As the flames consume the building structure and contents in the home or building, some things don’t burn cleanly, producing smoke and soot. Products consumed in the flames, including liquids, gases, and solids, that are composed of multiple chemicals, are a big health hazard.

In modern homes, there are not nearly as many chemicals as you would find in those that are at least 20 years of age. In older homes, you will find an array of foams, fabrics, carpeting, wood products, plastics, synthetic fabrics, wood, and many asbestos-containing products. When burned, they pose a severe health risk to those conducting the fire damage restoration, making this a very dangerous DIY project.

How can I be exposed to smoke and soot damage?

Exposure to the smoke and soot byproducts can occur through the eyes, inhalation, and ingestion when conducting fire damage restoration. This is why it’s important to leave this job to the professionals. Even if you don’t see anything in the air, there are millions of tiny soot particles floating around, affecting you without you noticing.

After soot enters your bloodstream, it can cause a number of health issues, including:

• Emphysema
• Skin and eye irritation
• Chronic bronchitis
• Stroke
• Asthma
• Heart attack
• Cancer
• Premature death

For infants, even minimal exposure can have long-term effects, such as permanently altering respiratory symptoms.

Which toxic materials are found during fire damage restoration?

• Carbon materials: Carbon monoxide, hydrogen, ammonia, tar, and nitrogen oxides.
• PVC: Hydrogen chloride, dioxin, chloromethane, bromomethane, halocarbons, and phosgene.
• Mesothelioma (Cancer): Asbestos fibers from building materials used in the 1950s to 1980s.
• Sulfur: Hydrogen sulfide, Thiols, and sulfur dioxide causing residual smoke odor.
• Wood: Over 100 chemicals found in cigarette smoke

Get Professional Fire Damage Restoration

As you may now know, fire damage restoration is best left to the professionals. Due to the number of health issues floating around with the smoke and soot products, professional safety equipment is needed when dealing with this damage. Also, household cleaning products will not remove the oily soot residue; there are professional soot removal products designed to remove these particles, however, they are not sold over the counter.

To avoid any health issues and the damage to your property from getting worse, be sure to call for professional fire damage restoration. They are available 24/7 to respond to these emergencies as soon as the flames are extinguished and they provide everything from emergency board ups and tarping to reconstruction to restore your home or building.

ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery

If you live in or near the San Francisco Bay Area, contact ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery for fire damage restoration. Their fire restoration specialists are not only licensed and trained to handle fire damage, but they have years of experience and know exactly what to do to get your property on the road to recovery.

As soon as we arrive, we will board up all holes and openings and secure the structure (if needed). We will then conduct an initial inspection to determine the scope of the project. Our technicians will address the full restoration process by using professional products and equipment to restore the building materials and belongings. All permanently damaged building materials and belongings will be removed, and replacements will be installed. Any lingering odors will also be removed using our advanced ozone technology.
After the restoration process is complete, we will work with your insurance company during the claims process, so you can focus on other matters.

Emergency Response

Don’t hesitate to call ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery at (800) 439-8833 for an immediate response to your fire disaster. We are available in San Francisco, CA and the surrounding areas.