IAQA - White Paper Archives

Delia_Evaluating Fire and Smoke Contamination in Indoor Air

Issue link: https://hi.iaq.net/i/614598

Contents of this Issue


Page 3 of 4

IAQA 18 th Annual Meeting & Indoor Environment & Energy Exposition, Grapevine TX, 16-18 March 2015 IAQA 18th Annual Meeting & Indoor Environment and Energy Expo (IE3) The views and opinions herein are those of the volunteer authors and may not reflect the views and opinions of IAQA. The information is offered in good faith and believed to be reliable but it is provided without warranty, expressed or implied, as to the merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose or any other matter. Fuel Material: The type of fire will also have a significant impact on both the VOC indicators produced and the extent of contamination. Fires originating indoors (e.g., structural, electrical, food/protein/grease, petroleum, etc.) will often exhibit more variability because of the mixture of different materials that burned whereas smoke infiltrating from a wild fire is typically more homogeneous because of the common elements of the biomass that burned. Environmental Conditions: The concentration of VOCs in the air or adsorbed into materials is dependent on the temperature and humidity in that indoor environment, as well as the ventilation rates of the building. Typically, higher temperature and humidity will increase the VOC concentrations in the air while higher ventilation rates will dilute the VOCs and reduce the concentrations in the air. The way in which these factors combine can produce tremendous variability in analytical results. For example, the infiltration of wild fire smoke into a building will likely result in indicators representative of biomass burning specifically rather than those more typical of synthetic materials and the presence of indicators with a range of volatilities implies that the smoke infiltration was relatively recent whereas the presence of only the less volatile, or heavier, indicators implies that the smoke infiltration occurred months or years previously. Conclusions Fires produce a multi-phase mixture of reaction products dependent on the materials burned and the conditions during the fire. In an assessment of residual fire and smoke contamination it is essential to evaluate both the particulate and chemical components, as well as the specific conditions relevant to the indoor environment, in order to determine the extent of remaining contamination. In addition to an assessment of the particulate soot, char, and ash, VOC indicators representative of the fire and smoke can be used to evaluate the amount of residual chemical contamination that is typically responsible for the characteristic smoky odor of a fire. Depending on the specific situation, sampling of the air, bulk materials, dust, or surfaces can provide a thorough assessment of the potential VOC contamination. Interpretation of the data is complicated by consideration of all the potential sources for the indicator VOCs, the mix of volatilities of the indicator VOCs, the materials burned, and the environmental conditions in the indoor environment. In putting all the pieces of the situation together it is possible to determine the level of residual contamination and evaluate the potential for health and odor issues.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of IAQA - White Paper Archives - Delia_Evaluating Fire and Smoke Contamination in Indoor Air