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New Standards for Particles from Fires

Posted on February 21, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse

American National Standards Institute logo

The Indoor Environmental Standards Organization has been waiting for approval of their new standard for Evaluation of HVAC Interior Surfaces to Determine the Presence of Fire-Related Particulate as a Result of a Fire in a Structure.  Whew!

On February 15, 2012, the American National Standards Institute let them know that the standard was approved.

Let’s go back a bit.  What they have done is set a new standard for how to tell if fire residue is present in ventilation systems.  That’s better!


What is fire residue?

The particles that the new standard measures as residue are:

    • Char–The primary indicator of residue, char is defined as “the solid material that remains after light gases (e.g. coal gas) and tar coal tar have been driven out or released from a carbonaceous material during the initial stage of combustion.” (Wikipedia)
    • Soot–The secondary indicator, soot, “refers to impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon…but is commonly extended to include…fuel particles such as coalcenospheres, charred wood, petroleum coke, and so on.

They are measuring particles left by the burning of both gases and solid fuels.
The standard uses a control sample and compares it to samples taken from the interior of HVAC systems, but does not determine what has been burned or what the specific particles are.

Why is it important?
When there has been a fire in a structure, it is essential to know the extent of damage and what restoration is needed for that structure to be safe to live or work in.  Most fire damage is easy to see and make decisions about.  However, if the ventilation system in a structure is contaminated with particles that are not removed, it can cause further damage to not only the building but the people inside for years into the future.  It is extremely important to know whether or not those interior surfaces need to be cleaned and, if so, to have a reputable professional take care of the problem before it becomes worse.

AirTek offers both Residential and Commercial Air Duct Cleaning services, as well as Kitchen Exhaust Hood and Dryer Vent cleaning, all of which help to prevent fires before they start.  If you have had a fire, we can also take care of making sure that your HVAC systemis clean and safe for you, your family and your employees.

As they say, prevention is worth a pound of cure, but when you need the cure, we are here!

The new standard will be available as a PDF next month and I will put a link here on the AirTek blog when it is released.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group.  She welcomes your comments!  For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!  For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental  on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

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