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Smoke Analysis

The analysis of soot and smoke residues can potentially provide information for the following situations:

1. using soot in the detection of the presence of an Ignitable Liquid
2. detection of smoke residues on material/clothing that may present an odour problem
3. the determination of smoke odours after incomplete dry cleaning performance
4. determination of the source or cause of a soot buildup
5. determination of the extent of soot/smoke effects in a building to aid remediation

In each of these cases the success in obtaining information from a laboratory analysis is directly dependent on the ability to take an appropriate sample and in using a good sample container. In the rest of this article we will review these important aspects as well as specific comments for each of the above objectives. This article is not in any way a comprehensive sampling instruction manual but is our advice on the basics that we feel will most likely lead to a good analysis.

Smoke can be thought of as the combination of hot gases, water vapour, and a variety of microscopic and macroscopic particulates carried aloft by the gases/vapours. Layers of these particulates can be carried for a long distance and deposit or condense on surfaces as visible and/or microscopic "soot". Soot is a form of carbon and is a very good adsorber of chemicals. Soot can easily retain the chemical traces of the source material used to start a fire. It can be obtained from any surface such as glass, metal, wall surfaces, fabrics, etc. Our analysis utilizes information obtained from a Swiss study in 1993. This study characterized soot and used it as an investigative tool in determining the source material or ignitable liquid used to fuel a fire. We also analyzed specifically for those organic compounds responsible for the Organoleptic properties (odour) of smoke. Our analysis utilizes the latest techniques in extracting the chemical components of the sample, separating the mixture of compounds with high-resolution gas chromatography and identification of the components with a highly sensitive and specific mass spectrometer (GC/MS).
Activation Laboratories Ltd. | 41 Bittern Street, Ancaster, Ontario, L9G 4V5, Canada | TF: +1.888.228.5227
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