Fire Damage >> Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi

Once the immediate danger of a wildfire has passed, people have questions about indoor air quality in unburned homes in or near the fire zone. A major concern is the potential for toxins and other contaminants in the soot and ash that may be deposited in homes from nearby burned structures, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi and the health and safety of families reoccupying these homes.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi("Department”) has developed this guidance document to assist residents and local public health officials in addressing potential indoor air issues within homes impacted by wildfires. 

In developing this document, the Department has coordinated with indoor air quality officials across the country, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi and has compiled a list of recommendations and considerations for addressing potential indoor air quality issues during clean-up and re-occupancy. 

Ash/Debris handling at burned home sites: The Department has produced a guidance document titled "Wildfire Recovery Guidance for Cleanup of Damaged or Destroyed Buildings” That document is available here: Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-Main/CBON/1251627134922. 

All debris and ash should be handled in a manner that will minimize potential exposure to both the people handling the material and those in the surrounding area. Materials must be thoroughly wetted to minimize dust from being generated as the ash and debris is handled, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi then packaged inside a 6-mil plastic sheeting liner. 

This is done to contain the ash and debris as it is transported from the site to the landfill. Indoor Air Quality issues in adjacent home sites: The Department recommends that residents stay inside as much as possible until adjacent structure sites have been cleaned. Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi

Limit the outdoor time of children and pets and do not let them play around burned structures. Take off your shoes and wipe off pets’ paws before they enter your home. Continue to keep doors and windows shut as much as possible. Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi

Even if a house does not have air conditioning, most furnace systems -through which the conditioned air passes - can run continuously on the "fan only” setting. Make sure the system filter is clean; if not, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi or if it is the less efficient fiberglass filter type, replace it with a more efficient pleated filter. 

Replace filters as they become clogged; some sources recommend replacing filters once a month for up to a year after the surrounding area has been cleaned. Local hardware and general merchandise stores should be able to assist you in finding the appropriate filters for your home. Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi

Most window air conditioners and swamp coolers do not filter the air before it is discharged into the home. There may be some reduction of particulates when the air passes through the wet media on a swamp cooler, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi but it is much less than what will be captured by a filter on a furnace or centralized air conditioning system. 

We recommend limiting the use of this individual type of equipment, if possible. Be aware of heat issues if your home is not air conditioned and Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi limit activities during hot weather. Ash and soot on the ground and vegetation in the vicinity will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when disturbed by air movement. 

Until the ash and soot is diluted and absorbed by the environment, use Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi indoor mechanical air filtration (such as centralized air conditioning with furnace filters) to help minimize the effects. If you choose to add an air purifying system (an individual or whole house unit)in addition to your furnace/AC unit, there are several things to consider. 

No air purifier will remove all pollutants from the air. The most common unit air purifiers are designed to remove particles, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi and will not eliminate odors caused by the smoke. The addition of a charcoal pre-filter may assist with odor removal. 

A High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is at least 99.97% efficient in removing particulate. Important factors to look for are "true” HEPA filters, not "HEPA type” filters, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi and making sure that the unit is sized correctly for the rooms you plan to use it in. 

Most portable units will state on the package the unit’s airflow rate, the room size it is suitable for, its particle removal efficiency, and perhaps its Clean Air Delivery Rate, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi or CADR. The CADR is a rating that combines efficiency and airflow. 

Room air cleaner units should be sized to filter at least two or three times the room volume per hour. Room volume is calculated by multiplying the floor dimensions (length times width) times the ceiling height. The use of ultraviolet (UV) light in air purifiers does not effectively help to remove smoke from the air. Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi

The Department advises the public to avoid exposure by not using air cleaners that produce ozone. For additional information, please review the US Environmental Protection Agency document: "Ozone Generators That Are Sold As Air Cleaners,” available at: Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html 

When cleaning smoke/soot from a home, the following steps are recommended: 

• Use a hose or pressure washer on the exterior of the home, drive and walkways, patios, decks, outdoor furniture and Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi automobiles. Rinse off furnace air intakes and air conditioning units. Do not use leaf blowers to clean outdoor surfaces. 

• Wash all interior surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions and rinse thoroughly. Include the inside of closets, cabinets and drawers, Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi if necessary. Wet wiping and damp mopping is preferable to dry sweeping. Change wash water frequently. 

• If vacuuming, take care to ensure that the vacuum cleaner is equipped with HEPA filtration. Vacuums without adequate filtration will permit particulate to pass through the bag or Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi filter and redistribute it throughout the home. Launder or dry clean all affected clothing. It might be necessary to rinse a load several times. 

• Clean all impacted household items with mild soap. Change wash water frequently and rinse thoroughly. 

• Steam clean affected carpets, upholstered furniture and mattresses - changing water/solution frequently. 

• It may be necessary to "blow out” the interior of electronic equipment, such as computers, stereos and televisions; Questions On Health Risks Of Cleaning Smoke And Fi as well as refrigerator condenser coils whose electrostatic charge might have attracted particulate.

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