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FIRE DAMAGE RESTORATION - HEALTH EFFECTS?

After a house fire, the Insurance Company is usually left with the responsibility of either repairing or totally rebuilding the home. We have been providing the insurance industry with expertise to determine the scope of the repair for many years. These scopes often provide a detailed description of what is required to return the home to its original integrity. Although reduction of odours has been addressed as part of these requirements, little attention has been paid to health effects in a home following a fire.

Recent studies at the Institute for Research in Construction, National Research Council (NRC) have addressed health concerns in a home following a fire. These studies, along with an increased public awareness of health concerns, drive these issues to the forefront. As a result, the Insurance Industry can soon expect to be required to address these concerns.

The NRC studies specifically address the decay time of combustion products. Decay times of greater than three months to three years were extrapolated on some compounds. The studies were verified through tests conducted in several homes repaired after a fire.

Although these studies were limited in their scope, the results indicate the potential for health problems in a home repaired after a fire. In order to tackle this problem, we must modify and improve our reconstruction methods. At this time, a test method has been developed which enables us to measure concentrations of combustion products (similar to that used in the NRC studies). In this way, we can assess the restoration efforts to remove and seal these products from the home. Compounds released from new construction materials can also be assessed.

Present reconstruction methods include:

 

Improvements to these methods are being developed through testing and experience. With time, the above methods, and the air sampling and testing described, will provide the insured with the assurance that their repaired home provides a safe, healthy environment. It is only through our combined efforts tha the necessary testing and analysis will be completed to reach this goal.

 
The information contained in this web site is intended for marketing purposes only. It is not all-inclusive, and does not fully describe the many and varied services that the company provides, nor does it completely describe the education, training, skills, or expertise of our staff.

 
 
 

Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington Street West, Suite 800 | Toronto, ON M5V 3H2
Information contact: engineering@waltersforensic.com