The Hidden Dangers of Smoke Damage: Effects on Health and Property

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Smoke is a combination of gases and fine particles produced when organic matter like wood is burned. The fine particles can cause bodily irritations and respiratory illnesses.
  • Smoke can damage your property by discoloring furniture, grinding soot into your possessions, corroding metal appliances, and leaving toxic, malodorous particles on your rugs and upholstery.
  • Different types of smoke have distinct characteristics and cause damage in unique ways. Knowing if you are dealing with wet, dry, protein, or fuel smoke is essential.
  • Following a house fire, qualified environmental remediation teams like Alpha Environmental can help you restore as much of your property as possible and reduce your risk of further health and home damage.

How Does Smoke Affect Your Health and Property?

House fires deliver multiple waves of destruction—in addition to the fire itself, smoke can linger around, posing a threat to you and your property. Smoke is a mixture of gas and fine particles that can cause health complications after exposure. When unchecked, smoke can irritate the eyes, cause a runny nose, and develop or aggravate respiratory ailments.

Smoke residue can also sink into porous materials like rugs and upholstery. It can discolor furniture, expedite the corrosion of metal appliances, and leave behind a layer of soot that can grind deeper into items when touched. Wet, dry, protein, and fuel smoke have unique characteristics and risks.

Consult with a trustworthy environmental remediation company like Alpha Environmental to learn how to eliminate smoke and minimize the effects of fire damage.

Health Risks of Smoke Damage

Smoke residue exposure can significantly increase your risk of health complications. It can cause respiratory irritation, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and excessive phlegm production. Being around smoke can also spark uncomfortable bodily reactions like a stinging sensation in your eyes, headaches, or a runny nose.

For some individuals, smoke can exacerbate existing lung and heart conditions. For example, if you have heart disease, breathing in smoke may cause palpitations, chest pain, and fatigue. In extreme situations, smoke’s fine particles can contribute to premature deaths in people with preexisting conditions.

Understanding why smoke damage occurs and what types exist can help you make informed decisions that help protect you and your property. 

What Makes Smoke Toxic?

All smoke from fires contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter like soot. Moreover, some forms of smoke can include additional chemicals. Some examples of common contaminants seen in smoke are:

  • Aldehydes
  • Acid gasses
  • Benzene
  • Dioxins
  • Metals
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Toluene
  • Styrene
  • Sulfur dioxide

Smoke’s makeup can vary depending on the type of fire that created it, which also means it can differ in toxicity. Nevertheless, all instances of smoke inhalation can be harmful. Still, figuring out what type of smoke you are dealing with is helpful to facilitate remediation efforts.

What are the Different Types of Smoke Damage?

Smoke can come from various sources, such as a cooking fire or a wildfire. Smoke odor and other characteristics can vary depending on what fueled the fire that caused the smoke. 

Knowing different types of smoke and smoke damage is essential to the fire damage restoration process. The following four types of smoke damage are some forms that have been seen after a house fire.

1. Wet, Oily Smoke

Low-temperature flames produce wet smoke fumes, which usually originate from burning rubber and plastic objects. Thanks to its source, this moist smoke has an odor like burnt plastic. Plus, it leaves behind a dark residue that can corrode and rust metal objects. Wet smoke is also more challenging to clear because of its oily texture.

2. Dry Smoke

Dry smoke is created by intense fires at high temperatures that spread quickly. Paper, wood, and building materials are primary sources of this kind of smoke. Dry smoke leaves behind a fine, removable residue that tends to seep into tiny areas. In some cases, its tiny particles can infiltrate and damage HVAC systems, wiring, and the foundation of a home.

3. Protein Smoke

Protein smoke forms from burning high-protein organic materials, such as meat, fish, and eggs cooked on a stove or in the oven. Unlike other smoke varieties, protein smoke doesn’t cling to solid objects or create noticeable streaks or markings. However, it releases a pungent stench and might discolor your surfaces.

4. Fuel Smoke

Fuel smoke results from burning fuels like oil and petroleum. It’s not usually seen indoors, but it is typically found in sheds, garages, and commercial settings like warehouses. Fuel smoke lingers and gets denser, making it more difficult to remove. It can also irreversibly damage fabrics, including clothes and furniture.

No matter what type of smoke damage you are dealing with, you should contact a trusted environmental remediation company that offers help with fire damage restoration. They can minimize further smoke- and fire-fueled damage to your property and restore portions of your home.

Expert Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Services

Successful fire and smoke damage restoration requires an expert touch. Alpha Environmental restores your property back to health using a careful, thorough approach.

Property Damage from Smoke

Smoke can cause different forms of damage to your property, ranging from surface discoloration and odor contamination to corrosion and structural damage.

Corrosion of Surfaces

Smoke residue’s acidic chemicals can corrode surfaces and materials throughout your property. When unchecked, this residue can discolor metals, polymers, and textiles. It might also seep into porous materials, leaving behind unpleasant smells and long-lasting damage.

Structural Damage to Surfaces

Extended exposure to smoke and soot can harm a property’s structural components due to smoke residues’ acidic nature. It can expedite the erosion of building materials like drywall, hindering their function. Furthermore, smoke residue’s fine particles can seep into electrical wiring and HVAC systems, aggravating structural problems.

Being the victim of smoke damage can be discouraging. However, you can still save portions of your home if you quickly recruit a qualified environmental specialist to help with remediation.

Can anything be saved after smoke damage?

Soft, porous items are usually hard to recover if they have absorbed smoke residue, meaning many people have to replace carpets, rugs, blankets, and clothes after smoke damage. Nevertheless, solid, impermeable surfaces can usually be salvaged with professional-grade tools and substantial experience. 

Examples of materials that a skilled environmental remediation company can typically reclaim after smoke damage are:

  • Hardwood
  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Ceramic

The severity of smoke damage fluctuates depending on the intensity, duration, and nature of the house fire. Invite an environmental specialist to survey your property to obtain a better understanding of what items can be redeemed after restoration efforts.

How Alpha Environmental Can Help 

After a house fire is extinguished, it may seem like the threat has passed, but unfortunately, smoke can still damage your property and jeopardize your health. Exposure to smoke residue can obstruct respiratory processes, cause uncomfortable symptoms, and worsen preexisting heart and lung conditions. Plus, smoke can infiltrate and cling to components of your home, ruining your property.

Thankfully, reliable environmental remediation companies like Alpha Environmental can help you remove smoke residue from your property using top-of-the-line equipment and time-tested techniques. For more than 21 years, we have assisted the greater Portland, Oregon, area by shielding homes from fire and smoke damage. Our knowledgeable team will assess the extent of the damage, apply thorough cleanup methods, and work hard to return your home to a satisfactory condition.Contact Alpha Environmental today to protect your belongings, restore your home, and reduce additional fire or smoke damage.

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Lake Oswego, OR
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Beaverton, OR
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