Soot and Ash damage can be a result of a building structure fire or a wildfire.  A building structure fire is a fire involving the structural components of various types of residential, commercial or industrial buildings. Buildings range fromresidential single-family detached homes and apartments to commercial buildings from offices to shopping malls. Additionally, wildfires are a relatively common occurrence each year due to our dry climate, terrain, and indigenous vegetation combined with strong winds. Properties that are either directly or indirectly impacted can receive soot and ash fall-out due to the property's location to the fire source. Some properties may have significant damage throughout the interior and exterior areas of the building causing tenant/owner health problems, where others may only receive external contamination.

There is increasing concern regarding potential impacts of soot and other smoke-related particulates which may deposit on property exteriors and in­filtrate into buildings through openings such as doors, windows and vents. These particulates can include soot (carbonized material) and partially burned materials (char and ash). The purpose of a Fire/Smoke/Soot Inspection is to evaluate the potential impact of fire-related particulates on the residential and business structures and contents. Soot and ash particles can settle in attics, on window sills, door thresholds, floors, HVAC units and obvious other rooms and areas. Some occupants tend to claim damages that are in some cases unjustified in hopes of receiving professional cleaning services, however, AEG’s policies and procedures are to be objective to evaluate the property via surface sampling and, if requested, air sampling only. Our technicians are discreet in their communications with tenants and/or owners while performing our surveys. We provide only facts and a recommended cleaning scope of work for our client.

How is a Fire/Smoke/Soot Inspection conducted?

AEG Environmental Technicians collect soot samples from representative and random areas within the property and immediate exterior areas to help in determining and reporting the existence and location(s) of Carbon Black, Soot, Carbonized Materials/Charcoal, Ash content/percentage that may be related to recent fires/wildfires. Air Sample collection for airborne Black Carbon is performed according to the NIOSH 5000 method. The sampling methods commonly used is Combustion by-Product Analysis examination by collection of representative surface (tape lift) samples. 

Samples are analyzed by a certified AIHA Lab, via ASTM D6602-3B via Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Reflected Light Microscopy (RLM), and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (EDX).

Note: Soot particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye. It is our opinion that the surest way to document the absence of soot or combustion by-products is by laboratory analysis of wipe samples.