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Adjusters need to realize that on a molecular level, any structure affected by fire or smoke may not be able to be totally sanitized. Furthermore, there are certain types of combustion byproducts in the air we breathe as well as chemicals and gases that current deodorization processes may have little to no affect. (Credit: ambrozinio/Shutterstock) Adjusters need to realize that on a molecular level, any structure affected by fire or smoke may not be able to be totally sanitized. Furthermore, there are certain types of combustion byproducts in the air we breathe as well as chemicals and gases that current deodorization processes may have little to no effect. (Credit: ambrozinio/Shutterstock)

During a structure fire, heat and pressurized smoke can permeate the air, infiltrating walls, ceiling cavities, attic spaces and anywhere air can travel. After the fire is extinguished, porous materials begin the process of off-gassing and releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These odors can last for years if the affected materials are not properly cleaned, deodorized, encapsulated or replaced.

Oxidizing gasses such as hydroxyls or ozone, the use of HEPA vacuuming and air filtration and other cleaning methods can greatly reduce smoke odors and particulate matter. However, in some cases, the standard methods of deodorization may not work. Adjusters need to realize that on a molecular level, any structure affected by fire or smoke may not be able to be totally sanitized. Furthermore, there are certain types of combustion byproducts in the air we breathe as well as chemicals and gases that current deodorization processes may have little to no effect. Insured’s who have experienced a fire often misinterpret the smoke deodorization process as a guarantee of complete air sanitation, which in most cases is impossible to achieve.

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