Smoke Damage Assessment

Wildfire Soot Claims

A growing concern in the insurance sector is soot and smoke damage claims due to wildfires. Some of these fires can affect properties hundreds of miles downwind, causing the potential number of claims to be astronomical. Besides the known risks for respiratory and other health problems, smoke, soot, and char can cause physical damage ranging from settled ash to property damage.

Depending on the type and amount of soot, the remediation can range from simple cleaning to professional cleaning and even replacement of soft goods (fabrics and carpeting) and/or electronic appliances.

Please do not allow fly-by-night contractors cash in on your misfortune. Trust Environmental Consultants with all your testing needs.

Get pre-and-post-remediation site assessments to develop a scope of work and ensure the effectiveness of restoration!

What is Soot?

Smoke is a complex mixture of toxic gases and particles, which are generated from the various materials that burn during a fire. A typical structure fire may generate literally tens of thousands of toxic chemicals and gasses as a variety of materials and products are burned. Soot is the carbonaceous deposits remaining after incomplete combustion. Soot is typically black or gray, whereas ash is typically white or light gray. Soot can contain traces of the fuel that caused it, allowing the identification of the source. Soot and the combustion byproducts associated with it can be harmful.

Why Test for Soot?

Following a structure fire, there are several contaminants that may be present on the remaining materials and in the breathable air that can cause cancer or lingering odors in your home. Dependent upon what types of materials have been burned, several different types by-products may be present in the soot in your home. The presence of soot may cause discoloration of materials/paints due to the acidic properties as well as settling into porous spaces resulting in smoke-like odors that can last up to years!

Environmental Consultants will follow the industry testing standards in developing a scope of work that will assist in remediation. We will provide a scope of work based upon the findings of surface samples and visual assessments. The scope of work can be given independently to a certified remediation contractor to ensure that the proper restoration is performed.

Several other forms of testing are recommended following fire restoration including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), heavy metals, mercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), etc. However, soot surface sampling is now currently regarded as the standard following fire restoration activities. Just as in asbestos, lead or mold, soot testing is a tool used to assess the effectiveness of remediation recently performed. Any reputable contractor would recommend that post-remediation-sampling occur to ensure the home or business is returned to its pre-loss conditions.

Correctly identifying exposure to smoke is critical to assessing the need and the extent of remediation that can be justified.

Structural fires, protein fires (cooking) and wildfires produce smoke. Smoke is the visible airborne product of combustion and consists of particles, liquids, aerosols, and gasses, some of which condense as solids. Combustion particles are a part of the environment and a typical component of dust. However, uncontrolled wildfires and structure fires may subject buildings and surrounding areas to concentrations of smoke particles and residues sufficient to affect the appearance and utility of building surfaces. Heavy smoke deposition is evident as a coating of dark particles, often accompanied by a pungent odor. Depending on the fuel and temperature of combustion, residues may be corrosive or exhibit other unwelcome chemical effects.

Indoor environments are impacted by a wide variety of combustion sources. Given the vast number of combustion sources, the characterization of combustion particles is an essential part of establishing the presence of debris from a wildfire. Environmental Consultants uses a highly specialized laboratory analysis that can positively identify combustion particles to a specific wildfire event.

Winds generated by larger weather patterns may transport smoke great distances. Particles of charred debris often continue to deposit long after the fire was extinguished. This collection of particles becomes the unmistakable signature of that wildfire.  This signature forms the assemblage of particles marking the specific wildfire. Unlike other Hygienist companies, Environmental Consultants can positively identify these signature particles, so there is no mistaking the origin of the particles.

Request a Smoke Assessment

Environmental Consultants continues to be the distinct leader in smoke damage assessments. The experts at Environmental Consultants have conducted hundreds of smoke damage assessments including structure fires, protein fires and every major wildfire throughout the United States and Canada. Environmental Consultants continues to develop state-of-the-art, science-based investigative and analytical methodology providing our clients with defensible and indisputable results. Environmental Consultants is acknowledged among insurance carriers, attorneys, Independent and Public Adjusters as being impartial and unbiased. Our thorough, comprehensive and defensible smoke damage assessments are well accepted by all involved parties as fair and accurate and are rarely challenged.

Environmental Consultants continues to pursue and develop state-of-the-art, science-based investigative and analytical methodology providing our clients with defensible and indisputable results.

Contact Environmental Consultants for our Smoke Damage Assessment with the fastest turnaround time. Our Smoke Damage Assessment is comprehensive and thorough, including interior and exterior areas, attic, and garage.


The cost of the Smoke Damage Assessment is $1450.00 plus $75.00/per optical microscopy sample. Additional fees would apply for other extensive laboratory services which may include TEM, SEM and/or GCMS.