LCS Laboratory Inc., offers several tests that were specifically developed for Fire Investigators, Fire Damage Appraisers, and Insurance professionals. The tests are designed to evaluate traces of smoke and fire damage that are not obvious by naked eye: cleanness of the surface, trace contamination of air, odor investigation, and so on.
The following classes of chemicals can be found in a building that was damaged by fire:
- Gases. Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Ammonia and other. They are extremely toxic, but quickly dissipate over the short period of time, and can be detected within the first few hours after the fire only. Usually the gases are of no concern when you investigate the extend of fire damage.
- Solvents and other organic vapors. Presence of solvents in air can be identified by a “chemical” smell of the house. The solvents are not a product of the fire but often are results of spill of household chemicals. LCS Laboratory can help you to measure concentration of the solvents in air. Elevated level of solvents indicate that solvent spill is present and must be cleaned.
- Creosote mist and vapors (volatile fraction). Creosote, wood creosote, or wood pitch is dark-brown viscous liquid with high boiling point in the range of 200ºC-600°C. Creosote is responsible for the very recognizable smell of fire, which is caused by volatile phenols and similar aromatic compounds. The vapor is toxic and some components of the creosote are carcinogenic. Creosote is not a single compound, but rather a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals produced during fire. Two major chemical groups were identified in creosote condensate: a) Phenols, b) Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PAC). LCS Laboratory offers tests for Creosote and it constituents.
- Creosote tar deposit (non volatile fraction). Creosote precipitates on walls, floor, ceiling, and any other surfaces that are damaged by smoke. The creosote is responsible for brownish color developed in the buildings with smoke damage. At skin contact, creosote can cause eczema. Some components of the tar are carcinogenic. Samples are collected on swabs and can be analysed by LCS Laboratory for creosote and it components.
- Soot in air. Soot is a a form of carbon particles (dust) resulting from incomplete combustion of organic materials like fuel, polymers, hydrocarbons, wood, paper and so on. Soot is also known as “Elemental Carbon”, this term is commonly used by mining industry, and “Diesel Particulates” because it is produced at incomplete combustion of diesel fuel. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA USA) indicates that soot causes the following health effects: Irritation-Eyes—Mild (HE-16); Potential lung damage (HE-10); Suspected carcinogen (HE2) .
- Soot deposit. Soot precipitates as fine black dust on all surfaces of the house that was damaged by fire. Soot can be collected on swabs and sent to our laboratory for testing. This test is commonly used as a way to find boundaries of the area that was damaged by smoke.
- Ash deposit. This test detects traces of fire ash in floor dust (or any other dust). The test is commonly used as a way to distinguish a layer of fire ash from common industrial dust. The test is helpful in determining if the cleaning is a responsibility of the insurer or a client.
If you need those or any other tests, please email us at your convenience.