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Posted by: Terry Rasmussen on 11/25/02 Title: Environmental Impacts of Fires
Postnum: 113 EntryID:686
Does anybody know what specific impacts a large fire in a large residential / commercial building would have on the surrounding environment? I was thinking along the lines of PAHs, VOCs, and possbly metals in the surrounding soils....


Posted by: Storm on 1/7/03 Title: Re: Environmental Impacts of Fires
Postnum: 113 EntryID:712
In my limited knowledge of fires and the combustion components the first thing I would have to ask is "How hot does the theoretical fire burn? and secondly does, in receive enough oxygen? This two factors are very important because if a fire has an enough oxygen and heat then the pollutants that are produced would be low. (I can't give any speciffic values for what I mean as low.) If a fire has enough heat but not enough oxygen te producetion of VOC and PAH's will be quite high, without enough oxygen present the carbon contained within the VOC's and PAH's cannot be oxidized. This usually happens in what fire fighters term as a back draft. It is a build up of highly volatile chemicals from petroleum derivatives (plastics, carpets ets) that are heated to or above there combustion point but lack the oxygen to combust. If this is the case then it is likely that a lot of PAH's and VOC's are built up and released. It is also my understanding that VOC's is a shortened term for volatile organic compounds. In terms of chemisty something that is volatile is easily converted to a gas, combusted and/or reacts very quickly in any case the concentration of these chemicals would become low very quickly after a fire. The most concerning chemicals would be the Polynulclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) are the ones really to worry about. Not only are they organic but they resistant to most forms destruction. PAH's are composed of benzene rings very stable organic molecules they resist catalylic destruction via radicals, they two too heavy to be raised high into the atmosphere to be destroyed by high eneygy cosmics radiation and the are not attached by the hydroxyl radical to be degraded. On top of all that PAH's are known to carcinogenic. However on a plus note because they are organic molecules they more very slowly through the ground water and disperse slowly. treatment of soil contaminated with PAH's is done by removal of the soil and replacement. The soil is usually mixed with un contminated soil to lower the concentration of the PAH's to levels that organism can survive then the orgaism are left to degrade the PAH's natually.

Sorry I couldn't help with actual values, and I hope I wasn't too broad with my comments but I lack your level of understanding on this topic

sincenly Storm B.Sc. Environmnetal Chemistry

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