How to Safely Heat Treat for Bedbugs, Termites, etc.

ThermaPure® Overview of Heat Illness Prevention Programs[i]

ThermaPure Heat Problems

Heat Illness Prevention

The application of high temperature to a structure is currently being applied by a variety of different contractors, including restoration, pest control, environmental remediation and IAQ. These are industries that use process(es) to significantly increase the temperature in a target area. These contractors need to be concerned over the well being of their workers and workers need to be concerned with their health. Indoor heat is a potential worker hazard. It is important that these businesses have a Heat Illness Prevention program is in place.

Indoor Heat – A Potential Worker Hazard

Humidity increases the risk to worker health and safety. When performing pest treatments or while killing microbes if the substrates are dry the relative humidity in the work area will be low.  But as you begin to dry a wet building the relative humidity will increase in the work area and potentially cause a more dangerous environment for the workers.

In 2005 the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigated[ii] twenty-five cases of heat related illnesses that occurred between May and November of that year.  The cases investigated involved only men employed in various industries including agriculture, construction, transportation, service and public safety.  Over two-thirds of the individuals spoke Spanish as their primary language.  Most of the incidences occurred outdoors, although one involved indoor-only work.  The work performed was described as moderate in regard to degree of strain required to complete the tasks.  These 25 incidences resulted in 13 deaths and 9 hospitalizations greater than 24 hours, some for significantly longer times.

Heat Illness Prevention Standard – CA Title 8 §3395.

As a result of their investigation, on June 15, 2005 the State of California enacted a Standard[iii] proposed and developed by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for Heat Illness Prevention. This Standard was developed with a conviction that the best defense against heat-related illnesses and fatalities is through prevention.  The Standard was developed primarily out of response to heat related injuries in outdoor work settings.

Revisions to CA Standard– 2015

On May 14, 2015 Title 8 §3395, Heat Illness Prevention Standard was revised with new and additional information and procedural requirements. In the revised standard Heat Illness is defined as: a serious medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load, and includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat stroke.

California Standard Includes “Indoor Heat”

A November 2, 2015 News Release[iv] from the CA Department of Industrial Relations announced that “Cal/OSHA Wins Unprecedented Decision in Case Protecting Workers from Indoor Heat. In this decision, the ruling affirmed that California’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) can be used “to address hazards that the standard does not specifically identify, including indoor heat.”

ThermaPure® Encourages Adopting a Heat Illness Prevention Program

Companies that deploy high temperatures in or to a structure should familiarize themselves with the requirements of the California Standard.  ThermaPure® encourages this. If not, the OSHA “General Duty Clause” and Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and any other appropriate guidelines should be followed.  OSHA does not have a specific guidelines section for heat illness, but does have a webpage addressing the issue.[v]However, the Cal/OSHA Standard is reflective of a higher standard of care for Heat Illness Prevention and ThermaPure® recommends that it be considered as a best practice. For California licensees it is necessary that a Heat Illness Prevention Program is included as a part of the Illness and Injury Prevention Program. For licensees outside of California, this is the only specific heat illness prevention program available.

Heat Illness Prevention – Cal-OSHA – 2016

The following sections are taken verbatim from the Heat Illness Prevention e-tool from the California Department of Industrial Relations Cal-OSHA website.[vi] Some of the copied sections have comments added by ThermaPure for clarification primarily regarding the ThermaPure process:

  • Heat Illness – “More to the Story”,
  • Types of Heat Illness and Common Signs/Symptoms,
  • What Causes Heat Illness,
  • Loss of Heat Balance, and
  • Preventing and Responding to Heat Illness

Heat Illness – “More to the Story”

What Happens to the Body

Human beings need to maintain their internal body temperature within a very narrow range of a few degrees above or below 98.6 °F. People suffer from heat illness when their bodies are not able to get rid of excess heat and properly cool. The body losses it’s “heat balance” because it cannot shed heat at a fast enough rate.

When the body starts to overheat the blood vessels get bigger and the heart beats faster and harder. More blood flows to the outer layers of the skin from the internal “core” so that the heat can be released into the cooler outside environment. If this process does not cool the body fast enough, or the outside air is warmer than the skin, the brain triggers sweating to cool the body. Sweat glands in the skin draw water from the bloodstream making sweat. The sweat evaporates and releases the heat from the body. During an hour of heavy work in hot weather, the body can easily sweat out one quart of water.

Shifting blood to outer body layers (the “shell”) causes less blood to go to the brain, muscles, and other organs (the “core”). Prolonged sweating can deplete the body of water and salt causing dehydration. Because the body looses water and the salts that are needed for the muscles to work, muscle cramping may occur. The physiological strain on the body from heat illness may cause the person to become dehydrated, weak, tired, and confused.

As dehydration gets worse the body can no longer keep its temperature within the normal range, sweating stops and severe heat illness occurs. In heatstroke, the person’s body temperature rises rapidly damaging the brain, muscles and vital organs causing death.

Rapid Onset

Heat illness can develop very rapidly and is not always obvious before it becomes life-threatening. During high heat, heat illness can develop faster and even employees who have been doing their job for sometime are a risk.

 

Variability in Symptom Recognition and Reporting

The symptoms of heat illness may vary between individuals. Also, employees may not accurately recognize and report the symptoms. As a result victims may be placed at a greater health risk. A person certified to provide first aid should be available at the work site to initially evaluate potential heat illness victims. See Emergency Response Procedures

Victims of heat illness may not report the full range of symptoms they are feeling because they:

·                     Choose not to for fear of negative consequences

·                     Deny that the symptoms may be serious

·                     Have not been trained to identify the symptoms of heat illness

·                     Are not physically able to report (e.g., they may have fainted)

·                     Are not fully aware of what is happening to their bodies (e.g., they may be delirious or mentally confused)

Types of Heat Illness and Common Signs/Symptoms

Heat illness affects the body, causing employees with mild symptoms to experience weakness, tiredness, and mental confusion, or even exhibit irritable or erratic behavior. Heat illness can also affect employees work performance and increase their risk of having accidents.

Employees should be encouraged never to discount any discomfort or symptoms they are experiencing when working in heat, after work or before the next workday. Heat illness symptoms can occur even after work has stopped. They should immediately report any problems they are experiencing to a supervisor and coworker, or a family member to seek prompt medical attention. Employees and supervisors must be fully trained on the prevention of heat illness before they are assigned to work in locations where they are at risk for heat illness.

 

Heat illness can be one or more of the following medical conditions including: heat rash, heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. The following symptoms are commonly associated with the different heat illness medical conditions. Given the variability in recognition and reporting of heat illness symptoms, the information listed below should be used only as a general guideline to train employees and supervisors.

Heat Rash (Prickly Heat) – Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating and clogged pores during hot, humid weather.

General Symptoms:

  • Can cover large parts of the body
  • Looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters
  • Often occurs on the neck, chest, groin, under the breasts, or in elbow creases
  • Uncomfortable so it can disrupt sleep and work performance
  • Complicated by infections

Heat Cramps – Heat cramps affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous work activity. Sweating makes the body loose salts and fluids and minerals. If only the fluids are replaced and not the salts and minerals painful muscles cramps may result.

General Symptom:

  • Painful muscle spasms in the stomach, arms, legs, and other body parts may occur after work or at night

Fainting (Heat Syncope) – Employees who stand for long periods or suddenly get up from a sitting or lying position when working in the heat may experience sudden dizziness and fainting. In both cases, the fainting is caused by a lack of adequate blood supply to the brain. Dehydration and lack of acclimatization to work in warm or hot environments can increase the susceptibility to fainting. Victims normally recover consciousness rapidly after they faint.

General Symptoms:

  • Sudden dizziness
  • light-headedness
  • unconsciousness

Heat Exhaustion – Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and the salt contained in sweat.

 

Cool skin temperature is not a valid indicator of a normal body temperature. Although the skin feels cool the internal body temperature may be dangerously high and a serious medical condition may exist.

General Symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Painful muscle cramps
  • Extreme weakness and/or fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness and/or headache
  • Body temperature normal or slightly high
  • Fainting
  • Pulse fast and weak
  • Breathing fast and shallow
  • Clammy, pale, cool, and/or moist skin

 

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is usually fatal unless emergency medical treatment is provided promptly.

General Symptoms:

  • No sweating because the body cannot release heat or cool down
  • Mental confusion, delirium, convulsions, dizziness
  • Hot and dry skin (e.g., red, bluish, or mottled)
  • Muscles may twitch uncontrollably
  • Pulse can be rapid and weak
  • Throbbing headache, shallow breathing, seizures and/or fits
  • Unconsciousness and coma
  • Body temperature may range from 102 – 104 °F or higher within 10-15 minutes

If the muscles begin to twitch uncontrollably, keep the person from self-injury. Do not place any objects in the mouth.

Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until emergency medical treatment is provided to the victim.

What causes Heat Illness?

The following is taken from the Cal/OSHA website:

T8CCR 3395 (b) Definitions states the following:

“Environmental risk factors for heat illness” means working conditions that create the possibility that heat illness could occur, including:

  • Air temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Radiant heat from the sun and other sources
  • Conductive heat sources such as the ground
  • Air movement
  • Workload severity and duration
  • Protective clothing and personal protective equipment worn by employees

“Personal risk factors for heat illness” means factors such as:

  • Water consumption
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Degree of acclimatization
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Use of prescription medications that affect the body’s water retention or other physiological responses to heat.
  • An individual’s age
  • Health

More on what causes Heat Illness:

Loss of Heat Balance

Heat illness results when the body is out of heat balance. Heat balance means that the heat the body produces equals the heat it looses. When the body is out of Heat balance it produces and retains more heat than it looses causing heat illness.

Sources of Body Heat

Heat building-up inside the body from moving muscles during physical work activities is the major source of heat build-up in the body. About 75% of the stored energy the body uses to do physical work is converted into heat. Only about 25% of the energy is converted into the movements required to perform work. The more strenuous the physical activity, the more internal heat the body produces. Performing physical work activities when risk factors for heat illness are present increases the internal heat the body produces.

Added to this internal heat is the external heat load on the body which comes from working where environmental risk factors (e.g., hot air, direct sunlight or lack of effective shading) are present. A major danger from warm and hot weather, high relative humidity and lack of air movement is that these factors greatly slow the body’s natural processes of releasing heat to the surrounding environment. All of these and other risk factors can increase the risk of heat illness.

Body Heat – Losses and Gains

The body looses and gains heat in various ways. These include:

  • Evaporation– the loss of heat through sweating. This is a major way the body loses heat. High relative humidity reduces this heat loss and thus reduces the body’s main cooling mechanism. Therefore, during periods of high relative humidity (such as in a water restoration application) there is a greater risk of developing Heat Illness. An indication of how relative humidity affects the risk of developing Heat Illness is called a Heat Index Value. Heat Index Values or Apparent Temperatures, are given in degrees Fahrenheit and measure how hot it really feels when relative humidity and air temperatures are both considered.
  • Radiation– the transfer of heat through space. The body loses or radiates heat to surrounding surfaces if the body is hotter than these surfaces. The body can gain heat from these surfaces if they are hotter than the body.
  • Convection– the transfer of heat in a moving fluid like air. Air flowing past the body can cool the body if the air temperature is cooler than about 95 °F. The body can gain heat through convection if the air is hotter than about 95 °F.
  • Conduction– the transfer of heat between surfaces touching each other. The body can loose heat directly through the skin if surfaces it touches (e.g., clothes, chairs, floors) are cooler than the skin. The body can gain heat through conduction if the surfaces it touches are hotter than the skin.
  • Inhalation/Exhalation– the loss of heat from warming and wetting of the air by breathing in and out. Accounts for about 10% of the body’s heat loss.
  • Heat Storage– some heat is lost through storage in the body.
  • Excretion– excretion of urine and feces accounts for about 3% of the body’s heat loss.

Risk Factors

Heat build-up inside the body from physical work activities is the major source of heat load. In combination with this, working where the environmental and personal risk factors listed above are present, creates an even greater possibility that heat illness could occur.

Cal/OSHA investigations (Study 2) showed that in 2006 heat illness cases occurred in temperatures as low as 80 °F.

Environmental risk factors can increase the external heat load on the body. Personal risk factors may increase an individual’s susceptibility to developing heat illness. For example, not drinking enough water or drinking alcohol can both cause dehydration. Other personal risk factors which may increase the risk of heat illness include previous heat illness, excessive weight of the person, and poor levels of fitness. They can also affect an individual’s ability to acclimatize or adapt to working in hot or warm conditions.

More on Environmental Risk Factors

Heat build-up inside the body from physical work activities is the major source of heat load on the body. During a high heat period, the external heat load on the body from working in extremely hot temperatures is much greater. Also, if it does not cool down at night the heat load in the body continues to build up and the body never has a chance to cool down. This is especially true for employees who do not have access to air conditioned environments or other ways to cool down and rest in the evening. In addition, if there is humidity sweat does not readily evaporate off the skin. This greatly slows the body’s natural processes of releasing heat to the surrounding environment causing the body to quickly overheat. These cumulative effects of high heat can occur over one or more days causing employees to return to work with increased risks of developing heat illness.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – The more the body is covered with materials which limit cooling, the greater the potential risk for heat illness. Wearing PPE which covers the body or face, limits air movement and the cooling effects of sweating. This results in the greatly reduced release of heat from the body to the surrounding environment and an increased heat load on the body. These factors make work tasks harder.

The type and level of PPE worn and the nature and duration of the work tasks, are the main factors which determine employee’s additional risk of heat illness from PPE. The types of PPE employees are required to wear can vary widely depending on their work tasks and exposures. PPE worn can range from hard hats, gloves or boots all the way up to a fully encapsulating chemical protective suit and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Inappropriate Work Clothing – In warm or hot work environments, or where other environmental risk factors are present, wearing inappropriate work clothing (e.g., dark colored or tight fitting clothing), can increase the risk of heat illness. Under these conditions wearing appropriate work clothing can protect against the sun and other risk factors.

 

More on Personal Risk Factors

Not Drinking Enough Water – In warm or hot conditions, drinking enough water (one quart per hour during the entire work shift) to stay healthy is vital for maintaining a normal body temperature. When working in these conditions the body looses a lot of water through sweating. Sweating helps lower the internal body heat but as the body continues to loose water it needs to be replaced to prevent dehydration and heat illness. Dehydration results in less perspiration so the body cannot get rid of heat fast enough causing increased heat load. Without sufficient water the body overheats.

Dehydration

Remind employees not to wait until they are thirsty to drink water. Being thirsty is not a good signal of the body’s need for water. By the time a person is thirsty they may have already lost too much water and their work performance has already declined. Employees should be encouraged to drink water frequently before and after work. Common symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration to make employees aware of and to have them check for include:

·                     Dark yellow or brown urine

·                     Reduced output of urine

·                     Rapid heart rate, muscle fatigue

·                     Loss of strength and dexterity

·                     Lightheadedness, dizziness

·                     Headache, blurred vision

Note: Drinking sufficient amounts of water allows for light or “straw” colored urine

 

Alcohol consumption

It is important to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. This is because alcohol increases dehydration and the body’s requirements for water. Sweating can cause the body to loose large amount of water. As the body becomes dehydrated more water is required to replace bodily fluids. Dehydration increases a person’s susceptibility to heat illness and deteriorates their work performance. Therefore, it is important for employees working in warm or hot environments to drink sufficient amounts of water and avoid drinking any alcohol beverages.

 

Lack of Acclimatization – In general, individuals are more susceptible to heat illness until their bodies have had time to adjust. Adjusting to working in the heat is called acclimatization.

Individual differences

Acclimatization is important for all employees working in warm or hot temperatures or where other risk factors for heat illness are present. However, in any large group of workers, remember that there are wide differences in the ability of individuals to adapt to the heat. These differences in individuals cannot be accurately predicted prior to exposure to warm or hot conditions. For these reasons even some acclimatized individuals may still develop heat illness given the temperatures and other risk factors present at a particular worksite at a given time.

 

Changes in work activities, locations or conditions

Even employees who were previously fully acclimatized may still be susceptible to heat illness and need further acclimatization when workplace conditions change. Such changes include:

·                     More physically demanding work tasks

·                     Working with required respiratory or personal protective equipment which reduce heat loss from the body

·                     Work locations with hotter temperatures

·                     High heat

Caffeine, Carbonated Sodas, Sports Drinks and Other Beverages – Sodas and drinks containing caffeine and sugar may increase dehydration. Therefore it is important to encourage employees to choose water over these types of drinks. Also, if employees choose these other drinks they may drink less water.

Note: The cautious use of sports drinks may be appropriate in the treatment of certain heat illnesses (e.g., heat cramps) but employees need to consult with their health care provider first.

Medications and Drugs – Certain “over-the-counter” medicines, prescription medicines, and other drugs may increase the risk for heat illness and other serious medical conditions. These substances may alter the body’s ability to deal with heat and reduce the individual’s awareness of the symptoms of heat illness. Because of this it is important:

  • For employees to consult with their health care provider and inform them that they will be working in warm or hot conditions, before taking any prescription, “over-the-counter” medications or other drugs
  • To only take these medications or other drugs under the advice of their doctor

Preventing and Responding to Heat Illness

Preventing heat illness protects your workers and is good business. Health and safety problems and other health problems like heart attacks and falls, may result from heat illness at the workplace. Heat illness may increase the costs of doing business by:

  • Reducing employee productivity and efficiency
  • Increasing your medical and emergency services costs
  • Taking up supervisory and administrative time
  • Increasing workers’ compensation premiums

Effective communication and the 10 elements listed below are keys to an effective program for preventing and responding to Heat Illness in your workplace.

California employers are required to take these four steps to prevent heat illness:

Training

  • Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.

Water

  • Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8 ounce glasses, of water per hour, andencourage them to do so.

Shade

  • Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes.They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. (ThermaPure note: Because a ThermaPureHeat project is indoors, a cool-down location is analogous to “shade”).

Planning

Cal/OSHA investigations showed that in 80% of the cases in which suspected heat illness occurred, the employer did not have a heat illness prevention program. Not having such a program caused harms including fatalities, serious injuries etc. The Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention regulation requires employer’s procedures to be in writing, and to be made available to employees and representatives of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) upon request.

These written procedures must include:

  • Complying with the requirements of the standardT8 CCR 3395(f)(1)(B)
  • Responding to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided should they become necessaryT8 CCR 3395(f)(1)(G)
  • Contacting emergency medical services, and if necessary, for transporting employees to a point where they can be reached by an emergency medical service providerT8 CCR 3395(f)(1)(H)
  • Ensuring that, in the event of an emergency, clear and precise directions to the work site can and will be provided as needed to emergency responders. These procedures shall include designating a person to be available to ensure that emergency procedures are invoked when appropriate.T8 CCR 3395(f)(1)(I)

As a general rule ThermaPure recommends that no one stay in a treated building during the heating process for more than 20 minutes.  Even if you do go inside be sure the other person onsite knows where in the structure you are going and if possible always have a “buddy” as you enter buildings that are being heated.  This recommendation applies to workers, property owners, tenants and the like who might be participating, in some form or another, in a ThermaPureHeat® treatment.

The Buddy System

As was previously mentioned, the “Buddy System” is recommended. When your technician team is performing a ThermaPureHeat® treatment and a worker goes into the treatment area make sure that the technician is either with somebody, or has contact via a mobile radio or cell phone with another person who is outside the treatment area. At the very least, make sure that the person entering the treatment informs a co-worker what he/she is doing and where he/she is going to be working inside the project.  Think of what happened to the worker who was immobilized by cramping. If he were in the treatment area by himself and had fainted, he probably would not have been discovered until 30 minutes later when workers were going back inside to check the temperatures and the moisture levels.

Cal/OSHA Employer Sample Procedures for Heat Illness Prevention, Title 8 §3395

As a major component of Title 8 CCR §3395, Heat Illness Prevention Standard, Cal/OSHA stresses prevention as the primary tool to fight heat illness.  The Standard specifically states that California employers with any outdoor places of employment must comply with Title 8 CCR §3395, the Heat Illness Prevention Standard.  To assist employers in the development of a program to implement the Standard, Cal/OSHA developed a sample procedure[vii] as a tool.

In this sample procedure Cal/OSHA states that the procedure provides minimal steps for application in most outdoor work settings.  They further state that “in working environments with a higher risk for heat illness (e.g., during a heat wave, or other severe working or environmental conditions), it is the employer’s duty to exercise greater caution and additional protective measures beyond what is listed in this document, as needed to protect their employers.”  ThermaPure® has interpreted this statement to encompass California workers employed by E-Therm and TPE licensees to deploy the ThermaPureHeat® process. This interpretation has been confirmed in California by a 2015 court ruling in which Cal/OSHA won an unprecedented decision in a case protecting workers from Indoor Heat. In this press release, Juliann Sum, Chief of Cal/OSHA stated: “California is the only state with an outdoor Heat Illness Prevention standard. Now all workers, including those who work indoors like warehouse workers, are protected from the hazard of heat.”

It is important to understand that Cal/OSHA does not intend for these procedures to supersede or replace the application of any other Title 8 regulation, particularly Title 8 CCR §3203, Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).  The Heat Illness Prevention Program may be incorporated into the Employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program.  Although this standard is specific to California employers, E-Therm and TPE recommend all licensees develop a similar program for incorporation into their Illness and Injury Prevention Program or Safety and Health Program.

Applicable Regulations or Standards

  • 29 CFR 1910 – General Industry Standards
  • 29 CFR 1926 – Construction Industry Standards
  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM) TED 1-0.15A, Chapter 4 – Heat Stress
  • Title 8 CCR §3395 – Heat Illness Prevention Standard
  • Title 8 CCR §3203 – Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)

[i] ThermaPure® Heat Technician Training Manual, 2016.

[ii] “Cal-OSHA Investigation of Heat Related Illnesses”, State of California Memorandum, February 17, 2006, https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/heatillnessinvestigations-2005.pdf.

[iii] California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Subchapter 7, General Industry Safety Orders Group 2, Safe Practices and Personal Protection, Article 10. Personal Safety Devices and Safeguards §3395. Heat Illness Prevention.

[iv] “Cal/OSHA Wins Unprecedented Decision in Case Protecting Workers from Indoor Heat” Department of Industrial Relations, State of California, News Release No.: 2015-101, November 2, 2015.

[v] “Water. Rest. Shade. The Work Can’t Get Done Without Them”, July 27, 2016, United States Department of Labor, OSHA, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html?utm_source=Twitter.

[vi] “Heat Illness Prevention etool”, California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal-OSHA division, Jul 27, 2016, http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/etools/08-006/index.htm.

[vii] “Employer Sample Procedures for Heat Illness Prevention,” California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA, May 2015.

Learning from History

This short documentary on the history of asbestos is very interesting. It can really make you think about current chemicals, GMOs, and manufactured materials that we are using in society today. It took over one hundred years from the time asbestos was first recognised as causing health concerns, to the time that asbestos was banned. Asbestos is still used in places like India!

The remnants of asbestos will be found in the United States for years to come. That is one of the reasons why filtration is so important to the ThermaPure process. Please check with your heat technician and make sure that they are running a HEPA filter.

STEFANY HEDMAN WESTENSKOW ASSUMES PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE POSITIONS AT THERMAPURE AND ITS LICENSING COMPANIES

New CEO Succeeds her Father, David Hedman, the Companies’ Late Founder, President and CEO

VENTURA, Calif., June 8 – The ThermaPure companies announced today that Stefany Hedman Westenskow has assumed the role of president and chief executive officer of E-Therm, Inc, and TPE Associates, LLC, the licensing companies for ThermaPureHeat®. Westenskow succeeds her father, David Hedman, who passed away peacefully at home on May 13 after battling cancer for several months. Age 59, Hedman was founder, president and CEO of the ThermaPure family of companies – Precision Environmental, PrecisionWorks, E-Therm, TPE and ThermaPure – and made remarkable contributions to the pest control and restoration industries by developing Thermapure’s structural pasteurization process of sterilizing structures using clean, hot air.

“Our family and all of us at ThermaPure are deeply saddened to share the news of my father’s passing,” stated Westenskow. “He leaves behind an important legacy of leadership, dedication to service, family and faith.” David Hedman also leaves behind substantial intellectual property; his patented processes prevented hundreds of thousands of pounds of deadly toxins from polluting the environment.
Hedman’s Legacy
Mr. Hedman’s passion as an inventor and entrepreneur began when studying engineering and economics at Stanford University. He started the first of a series of companies out of a desire to reduce environmental hazards in residential and commercial structures without using toxic chemicals. In the 1990s, he began developing ThermaPureHeat®, the now patented technology that is the application of clean, dry, hot air instead of dangerous and deadly chemicals to a structure to reduce or eliminate environmental contaminants. Nearly 30 years later, Hedman’s invention is the leading technology in removing environmental hazards from homes and workplaces, with numerous patents and trademarks.

New Leadership
Stefany Hedman Westenskow has been part of the ThermaPure companies’ leadership since 2007 and worked closely with her father on all management and operations issues at the companies while also overseeing the legal department for three years beginning in 2013. Maintaining the current, capable team, Westenskow plans to grow the ThermaPure brand with a renewed mission to protect and pursue innovative and environmentally sound solutions for pest and restoration issues. In an internal statement, Westenskow committed to honoring Stedman’s memory by “continuing the work he believed in so deeply and protecting what he worked so hard to achieve.” She pledged to run the companies as usual and as her father founded them, “with a stalwart and dedicated focus on innovation, environmental consciousness, teamwork, honesty, and smart and ethical business practices.”

Memorial Service
A memorial service to honor Mr. Hedman’s life was held in May. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a special fund set up by the Boy Scouts of America:
Hedman Philanthropic Fund
1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75038

About ThermaPure
ThermaPureHeat® is a patented technology that has revolutionized the pest control and restoration industries through the controlled application of sauna like temperatures to a structure or portion of a structure with a strong emphasis on simultaneous filtration to reduce the potential for spreading contaminants. It has been proven in tens of thousands of applications to be an effective treatment for wood-destroying organisms, bed bugs, mold, bacteria and viruses without the use of toxic chemicals.
ThermaPure’s intellectual property includes several patents and trademarks. Additional companies in the ThermaPure family include Precision Environmental, Inc., an environmental remediation services and operating company; PrecisionWorks; E-Therm, Inc., a licensing company; and TPE Associates, LLC, a pest services licensing company. With headquarters in Ventura, California, the mission of these companies is to reduce humanity’s exposure to lethal chemicals and carcinogenic substances, to improve the quality of life for asthma sufferers, and to provide living and working conditions that have less exposure to dangerous mold, bacteria, viruses and chemicals.

What Does a Bed Bug Look Like?

When you first begin to suspect you have bed bugs, you probably haven’t even seen them yet. You may wonder, “How big is a bedbug, what does it even look like?” For your reference and convenience, here is a bedbug image guide.

Here is an image of a bedbug next to a penny, you can see how small it is:

Bedbug with penny

Here is a picture of a bedbug on a cotton swab, this gives you a closer look at one:

bedbug on q-tip

Here is an image we took of a bedbug next to a small paperclip:

bedbug and blurry paperclip

Here is a photograph of a bedbug next to the tip of a pencil:

Bedbug with Pencil

This is a photo of a bedbug next to a stamp:

Bedbug stamp travel closeup

Here is a bedbug compared with a seed on lined paper:

closeup bedbug and seed

As you can see, from far away they would look similar:

Bedbug with seed

Here is an picture of a bedbug on a scale, you can see how small it is, it doesn’t weigh much:

Closeup bed bug on scale

We hope these pictures have helped you to see how big (or rather small) a bed bug is. ThermaPure has a long history of treating structures for bed bugs. If you have a problem with them, please contact us.

How do you protect workers from heat exhaustion? Do consultants require specific heat illness prevention safety measures as a part of a spec?

An increasing number of restoration contractors are utilizing high temperatures to dry water-damaged structures. Temperatures inside the structure are frequently heated over 105F and as high as 150F. What types of protection is available for workers in these conditions?

In 2005 the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, investigated twenty-five cases of heat related illnesses that occurred between May and November of that year.  The cases investigated involved only men employed in various industries including agriculture, construction, transportation, service and public safety.  Over two-thirds of the individuals spoke Spanish as their primary language. The work performed was described as moderate in regard to degree of strain required to complete the tasks.  These 25 incidences resulted in 13 deaths and 9 hospitalizations greater than 24 hours, some for significantly longer times. As a result, Cal-OSHA has since developed a Standard for Heat Illness Prevention and incorporated it into Title 8. Part of the requirement is a prevention program.

Do most restoration contractors have a Heat Illness Prevention program and what does it consist of? Do consultants typically specify Heat Illness Prevention?

Alliance Environmental Group Receives the 2015 ThermaPure® Best Practices Performance Award

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David Hedman, CEO of ThermaPure, Inc., announced the company’s first “Best Practices” Award to Alliance Environmental Group, Inc. The annual award was developed to recognize the ThermaPure licensee that best exemplifies the combination of performance and quality in delivering the ThermaPureHeat process.

“The application of elevated temperatures to a structure is a complex process and only the well trained are able to perform this successfully,” stated Hedman. “Alliance has repeatedly demonstrated this ability through their project success, training and quality control programs, and certainly management. We are extremely proud to recognize Alliance and their outstanding performance.”

In the past three years Alliance has steadily increased the number of ThermaPure projects and will complete well over 2000 ThermaPureHeat projects in 2015. What is significant about this performance is that in each of these three years, Alliance has decreased the number of heat related damages. To date in 2015 the cost of damages has been less than .5% of heat revenues.This is an impressive number and a reflection of an outstanding team effort.

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Alliance uses the ThermaPure technology in Pest Control for bed bugs and termites and for Environmental projects including the management of biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and mold. Alliance recently had significant success using the technology for odors, including smoke. They have done restorative drying on water loss projects, particularly those involving contamination where structural pasteurization is effective.

Joe McLean, CEO of Alliance Environmental Group says “ThermaPure technology has been a great addition in the Alliance portfolio of services.  It has helped us reach clients and successfully serve them using a revolutionary new method.”

Alliance Environmental Group’s mission is to be the leading environmental services company by delivering innovative, customer-driven solutions to our clients and partners. We continuously strive to set the industry standard by providing safe, efficient, high-quality services; relying on our quality of service, industry expertise, and honest communication; consistently providing a safe environment; and adapting existing services as needed to keep up with our rapidly changing communities.

ThermaPure is delighted with Alliance’s success with the ThermaPureHeat process. Alliance is making a major, green contribution, with this technology. As they perform thousands of ThermaPure projects, they are replacing tons of toxic pesticide chemicals which protects the health of our communities and ecosystems.

A Realtor’s View of ThermaPure

We are very pleased with this short article that mentioned us in the Ventura County Star Sunday entitled, “Don’t Get Bit by the Termite Tent.” Thank you for writing this Brian Guevara! Here is what he had to say: 

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Nothing is as frustrating to a homebuyer as the wait to move into the home they have just purchased because of a “termite tent.”

Ventura County real estate agent Brian Guevara has found away to move the process along: ThermaPure Heat Method.

Guevara has become a proponent of the system that kills termites and other bugs with heat rather than chemicals.

“I like it because it’s faster,” said Guevara, a RE/MAX agent with the Ventura office. “It costs about the same, and it doesn’t leave behind any chemical residue.”

In the ThermaPureHeat method, the extermination company skips the tent. Instead, it brings a number of heaters into the home and heats the interior of the home up to 150 degrees. (Lipsticks, candles and other items that might melt are safely placed in the refrigerator.) The heat kills termites and other small insects. It also takes care of any mold and pathogens.

After the interior of the home is heated for several hours, the home is cooled with fans.

The entire process takes about 12 hours. Tenting the home and treating it with chemicals will keep the homeowner out of the home for several days.

“I like it because the homeowner is anxious.

They want to move in. This lets that happen much sooner,” said Guevara. “The costs are comparable. And there is no chemical residue in the house. The guarantee is comparable to the traditional methods so the customer has nothing to lose.”

ThermePureHeat is a method developed and patented by Ventura County businessman David Hedman. The ThermaPureHeat method heats the ambient air inside structures up to 150 degrees for several hours in order to eliminate termites and other bugs, as well as mold, mites, allergens and other airborne pathogens. In water damage restoration, the method sanitizes the structure while it dries.

Brian Guevara is apracticing real estate professionalwithRE/MAXGold Coast Realtors.

He has been serving Ventura County for over 30 years and is a member of the Hall of Fame for RE/MAX International. He can be reached at 933-6600.

ThermaPureHeat® – A Restoration Process for Flooded Structures

flood damage

1000-Year Flood Events – Commonplace Occurrences?

This year’s storm experience in South Carolina is the sixth 1000-year flood in the past five years according to a USA Today report. What had seemed extraordinary is becoming common. These seemingly perpetual storms across the U.S. cause a multitude of problems.  One significant result is the presence of biological pathogens (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa) found in structures damaged by floodwaters. Structural pasteurization to dry and sanitize may be the best restoration process available.

Structural Pasteurization of Flooded Buildings

A process for a safe and effective sanitization of structures impacted by floodwaters is needed.  Pasteurization, a process used successfully for 150 years in food products, can be applied similarly to structures for disinfection. IICRC documents recognize “Structural Pasteurization”, but do not fully express the benefits. By reaching temperatures lethal to many of the pathogens associated with floodwater contamination, ThermaPureHeat® “pasteurizes” structures. ThermaPureHeat® is the most effective application of structural pasteurization.

Buildings impacted by floodwater are Category 3 water losses. Category 3 is defined by the IICRC as “grossly unsanitary”.  Structural pasteurization as a part of the drying process can return the structure to pre-loss conditions. Structural pasteurization with ThermaPureHeat® is one of the most thorough restoration processes because of both efficacy toward the target pathogens and the ability to penetrate inaccessible areas.  This process does not use chemicals or biocides and therefore no additional hazards are added to the space.  It is unique as a restoration process because it thoroughly dries the structure and kills the unwanted pathogens and their insect vectors.

Floodwaters Present a Severe Hazard

In the current aftermath conditions from these most recent storms, the extensive flooding will create a significant environmental health concern.  The potential contaminants in floodwaters include a variety of biological pathogens.  These pathogens present the opportunity for a number of water and excreta-related health problems and diseases for a significant period of time.  Many of these pathogens can remain viable in a structure for up to a year.  Some can remain longer in a moist environment.  As structures dry, many become aerosolized and migrate throughout the building.  Rodents and insects also act as vectors transporting these pathogens throughout a structure.  Disinfection of flooded structures is a complex and demanding problem.

Floodwaters present non-biological contamination problems as well.  Gasoline, pesticides and other chemicals may be carried by water into structures.  The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with many of these chemicals present a potential hazard to occupants as they slowly off-gas over the next several months. Structural pasteurization can speed up the process of off-gassing by increasing the vapor pressure of the impacted material. Chemical vapors are typically exhausted, but under certain conditions must be captured through carbon filtration.

Pathogens Found in Floodwater

Typical assessment of pathogens found in floodwater focuses on the measurement of coliform bacteria. The presence of coliform bacteria is used as a yardstick for the assumption of biological contaminants in structures impacted by floods or other sewage contaminated water.  Although this assessment is generally adequate to determine the presence of sewage related biological pathogens, it may not be adequate to determine the appropriate remedial response for the structure.  Some floodwater pathogens may be more difficult to kill or reduce to safe levels.

Recent studies of E. coli contaminations indicate that there is a possibility of human infection up to ten months after the original contamination.[i]  Other species may have even greater durability.  Salmonella, for example, has a longer life outside of the host and therefore has the potential of infecting a larger number of species, including flies, cockroaches and other vectors.  This may be true of other microbes as well.  It is important to understand that floodwater contaminated structures can remain a health concern for a long period of time.  This is particularly true if the building is not properly dried and remains moist or wet.  In fact, the conditions will worsen for a period of time. In addition, most buildings are a catalyst for insect infestation.

The bulk of data used in this paper regarding pathogens in floodwater is found in studies provided to assist in the management or design of water supply and sanitation systems.[ii]  Because of the size and magnitude of some of the hurricane floodplains the contaminated water and attendant pathogens are most likely comparable to sewage contamination.  Efficacy studies regarding the thermal death rate of floodwater pathogens are derived from these sources.

Pathogens found in buildings affected by sewage-impacted floodwaters include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and helminthes.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) these pathogens impact human health.  Although it is not the purpose of this paper to understand specific health concerns associated with these pathogens, it is the intent to understand the resolution – structural disinfection of floodwater contaminated buildings.  Included in these categories are a few of the assumed water and excreta-related pathogens.

Bacteria Viruses Protozoa Helminths
Escherichia coli

Salmonella

Enterococcus faecium

Rotovirus

Enteric viruses

 

Giardia lamblia

Entamoeba hystolitica

Nematodes – roundworms,

hookworms, Ascaris

Cestodes – tapeworms

The potential for infection of occupants in a structure comes from various vectors.  The vectors found to transport or transmit these pathogens in buildings include[iii]: feco-oral, water-washed, water-based, excreta-based insect and rodent vectors, and aerosol.

The importance of this is to demonstrate the dynamic nature of a floodwater-contaminated building.  Occupants can be affected by a wide variety of routes and vectors making the resolution more complex.  ThermaPureHeat® is the only process that effectively treats all of the pathogens present as well as impacting the vectors and routes, while drying the structure.

Thermal Inactivity of Specific Floodwater Pathogens

Temperature is a more thorough intervention process in the inactivation of enteric pathogens.  According to the WHO, “…heating to pasteurization temperatures (generally 60C) for periods of minutes to tens of minutes will destroy most waterborne pathogens of concern”[iv].  This general statement may be adequate to recommend utilization of heat for the disinfection of floodwater-impacted structures.  However, for the purpose of this paper, more specific targets have been identified to further define the efficacy of the process.  The following table shows specific pathogens that can be rendered inactive by temperatures within the range of structural pasteurization:

Pathogen

Genus, Species

Family
Thermal

Death Rate

Time

Required

Source
Escherichia coli Bacteria 60C/140F 45 minutes Padhye & Doyle[v]
Enterococcus faecium Bacteria 60C/140F <45 minutes Spelina[vi]
Salmonella Bacteria 60C/140F I hour Feachem[1][vii]
Shigella Bacteria 55C/131F 1 hour Feachem[viii]
Giardia lamblia Protozoa 60C/140F 2-3 minutes Univ of Utah[ix]
Entamoeba hisolytica Protozoa 60C/140F 1 minute Feachem[x]
Rotovirus Virus 63C/145F 30 minutes G.N. Woode[xi]
Enteroviruses Virus 60C/140F 2 hours Feachem[xii]
Ascaris lumbricoides Helminths 55C/131F 1 hour Feachem[xiii]

Application of the ThermaPureHeat® Technology

The efficacy of ThermaPureHeat® in its simplest form is a result of the combination of temperature and duration.  The complexity of any thermal sanitization is achieving efficacy in all areas of the structure.  What differentiates ThermaPureHeat® is the ability to sanitize the entire structure, including inaccessible areas and difficult areas such as crawlspaces.

Buildings are complex and the requirement for uniform temperature throughout a structure is necessary to achieve efficacy.  Heat technicians are thoroughly trained in construction materials, thermal dynamics and the intended targets.  Buildings have materials that conduct heat, some that create radiant losses, and others that are heat sinks.  The heat technician must understand each of these conditions and others.  Temperatures are monitored in real-time in all areas including difficult to heat locations.  In a wooden structure these places might be under sill plates, between header boards, and in wall cavities.  Crawlspaces and sub-areas provide additional difficulties.  ThermaPureHeat® can treat all structures.  Additionally, this process typically includes laboratory testing to document the reduction of bacteria following treatment.

The process of pasteurization of a structure appears to uniformly impact these pathogens related to floodwaters.  Other methods of disinfection are not as uniform in result.  For example, Giardia cysts are resistant to chlorination and a wide range of pH.[xiv]  Other methods may not be ovacidal, for example with some helminths, such as Ascaris, the eggs are more resistant than the larvae.  Other processes are not as safe or not as effective, or both.  Heat, as a disinfectant, is uniform and non-discriminatory in application.  Pasteurization of a building is an effective process to reduce pathogens to safe levels.

Structural Pasteurization with ThermaPureHeat

All buildings affected by floodwaters should be sanitized.  The most thorough method is structural pasteurization with ThermaPureHeat®. It is a patented, non-chemical, engineered process that “pasteurizes” structures.  This process is the most effective because it is the only process that kills or inactivates the majority of pathogens present while thoroughly drying the structure.  Additionally, it is the only treatment that inactivates pathogens in inaccessible areas. It prevents pathogens from vectoring by other sources.  Vector sources include aerosol, rodents, cockroaches, and other insects.  Added value for the process is the reduction of VOCs that may have resulted from chemical contamination associated with the floodwaters.  Much like the pasteurization of food products, ThermaPureHeat® reduces the biological contaminants in a structure to levels safe for occupants.

Larry D. Chase, Consultant to ThermaPure, Inc.

Original article reviewed by Sean P. Abbott, Ph.D., E-Therm Inc., Scientific Advisory Board

October 2015

[i] Varma, J.K., et al, (2003). “An outbreak of Escherichia coli infection following exposure to a contaminated building”. Journal of American Medical Association, 290(20), 2709-2712.

[ii] Feachem, R. et al,(1983). Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management. Wiley, Dorchester, England.

[iii] Mara, D.D., Feachem, R.G.A., (1999) “Waterborne and Excreta-Related Disease: Unitary Environmental Classification”, Journal of Environmental Engineering-ASCE, 125 (4), 334-339.

[iv] Sobsey, M., (2002) “Managing water in the home, accelerated health basis of improved water supply”, World Health Organization.

[v] Padhye, N.V. and Doyle, M.P. 1992. “Escherichia coli 0157:H7: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and methods for detection in foods”. J. Food Protect. 55(7):555-565.

[vi] Spelina, et al, (2007). “Thermal Inactivation of Enterococcus faecium, National Institute of Public Health, Prague, Czech Republic.

[vii] Feachem, R. et al, (1983) Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management, Wiley, Dorchester, England, p278.

[viii]  Feachem, R. et al, (1983) Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management, Wiley, Dorchester, England, p294.

[ix] Wilderness Medicine, (2005) University of Utah, School of Medicine.

[x] Feachem, R. et al, (1983) Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management, Wiley, Dorchester, England, p342.

[xi] Feachem, R. et al, (1983) Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management, Wiley, Dorchester, England, p188.

[xii] Feachem, et al, (1983)

[xiii] Feachem, et al, (1983).

[xiv] Feachem, et al, (1982) p354.

Wildfires – Smoke Remediation with ThermaPureHeat

fire and smoke damage

What are the Health Effects of Smoke and Fire Damage?

Extreme heat and drought occurring across much of the western United States are creating the perfect condition for increased numbers, size and duration of wildfires.  The wildland fire season of 2015 has already broken records and may yet be the worst fire season in recent history. This fire season was significant for the number of wildfires and the associated harm to the increasing number of humans living in wooded areas, as well as to wildlife, timbers and structures. Whole communities have been severely impacted. In a recent Senate Committee hearing, Thomas Tidwell, head of the U.S. Forest Service, testified before a committee on energy and natural resources that the fire season now lasts two months longer and destroys twice as much land as it did four decades ago.  Fires now, he said, burn the same amount of land much faster. Through September 18, the 2015 fire season has seen nearly 9 million acres burned from wildfires.

What is Smoke Made of?

With this increased potential of wildland fires, health concerns for certain individuals raise significantly.  Forest fire smoke is made up of small particles, gases and water vapor.  Water vapor actually constitutes the majority of smoke.  However, what remains is significant in terms of health effects.  The remainder includes carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, irritant volatile organic compounds (VOCs), air toxics and fine particles.  Although smoke can be harmful to all individuals, it may be dangerous to certain populations, especially those already at risk for heart and lung diseases.  Individuals with congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema or asthma are at greater risk.  Additionally, children and the elderly are more susceptible to harm from smoke.

Wildwood fires that occur in more populated areas, such as the 2013 occurrence of the Black Forest fire in Colorado have increased health concerns when structural components become fuel.  When structural fires are a part of the wildfire, the types of fuel increase and include all of the building materials – paint, carpet, floor coverings, wall coverings, insulation, manufactured materials, plastics, electronics, furniture, clothing, etc.  Chemicals, such as pesticides, cleaning agents, and aerosols also become fuels. Many of these household chemicals are known carcinogens.  Others can be damaging to structural components because of their corrosive nature.  All of this may be a part of what we refer to as “smoke”.

Smoke Contamination in Structures

Particles are classified by their size.  In a wildfire, hundreds of thousands of tons of respirable particulate matter is released.  The vast majority of this particulate is smaller than 0.3 micron.  To get a sense of size, a human hair will range from 30 to 120 microns.  Because of the small size of this particulate, it is easy to see how smoke will infiltrate your house, even though you may have had doors and windows tightly sealed.  Smoke damage is a common occurrence in structures near wildland fires.  Generally, what we notice after a nearby wildfire is the presence of “soot” and the odor of smoke.  Soot, or carbon black, is a relatively small component of the complex elements of smoke; however, it is the most easily recognized or observed.

It is difficult to assess the level of smoke contamination in a structure.  Certainly there are tests that can be conducted.  One example of a smoke testing is the ASTM D6602-03b test method “Standard Practice for Sampling and Testing of Possible Carbon Black Fugitive Emissions or Other Environmental Particulate”.  This method requires a wipe sample and a specific analytic protocol.  It will provide you with an assessment of the presence of both char material and carbon black in particle sizes of 1 micron and larger.  Other tests may be used to determine the presence of specific chemicals.  All of these tests are complex and must be conducted by a qualified consultant.  If it is necessary to determine and quantify the presence of smoke contamination, a qualified environmental professional should be used.

Smoke Odors in Structures

Generally, contamination will be determined by odor.  The presence of smoke in your structure will provide a recognizable smoke smell.  Odor brings awareness to the human olfactory system of the presence of airborne chemicals.  Awareness of odors can also be from stimulus, triggering unwanted irritation to eyes, nose, and throat.

Smoke can affect anyone, not just those at increased health risk.  “The odors from smoke can leave you feeling nauseous or with headaches, as well as an overall sense of annoyance at the constant smoke irritation,” said Janie Harris, Texas AgriLife Extension Service housing and environment specialist. “The smoke infiltrates homes and the lingering odor persists.”

Harris said the smoke smell persists, even after a good scrubbing, due to tiny microscopic particles that cling to walls, furniture, floors and clothing inside the home.  “Removing the smell of smoke can be a difficult job involving time, effort and money,” she said.

Smoke Remediation

The most effective way to eliminate the smell of smoke is to remove the source.  Other methods are often attempted, such as masking the odor or changing it chemically, but source removal is the preferred method.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides wildfire smoke remediation guidelines in a pamphlet titled “Tips from State and FEMA on Smoke Removal and Fire Cleanup”.  This guideline provides some tips on steps that should be taken.  Their course of action includes the following:

  • Pressure wash, scrub or disinfect all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, window and deck screens, etc.
  • Wash and disinfect all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products, and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget inside cabinets, drawers and closets.
  • Launder or dry clean all clothing.
  • Wash, dust or otherwise clean all household items, including knick-knacks.
  • Disinfect and deodorize all carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture and mattresses with steam or other appropriate equipment.

Following these tips will most likely reduce the surface particulate to acceptable levels.   However, it may not reach all areas and it may not eliminate the odor.

Structural Pasteurization as Odor Remediation

The process of structural pasteurization can be used to finish the job and have odor reduced or even eliminated.  Structural pasteurization, a process used by ThermaPure® licensees, increases the temperature of a structure with the goal of reducing a targeted chemical(s) or organism to an acceptable level.  This technology has been used in mold remediation, bacterial disinfection, pest eradication and chemical reduction processes.

With regard to chemicals, the temperature in the structure is elevated to 105ᴼ-120ᴼF, increasing the vapor pressure of the various chemicals which speeds up the natural process of off-gassing.  This temperature will be maintained for varying periods of time, from hours to a few days, depending on the complexity and severity of the smoke odor.  ThermaPureHeat® is applied as an engineered process; which includes air filtration, temperature control and monitoring, and air pressure control which will provide uniform air and temperature distribution to the structure.  This allows a more rapid off-gassing of chemicals while maximizing protection to the structural components and furnishings.  Air filtration will use HEPA filters to capture much of the particulate and may use carbon filters to capture vapors.  In many situations the structure will be heated under negative pressure, allowing both ultrafine and fine particulate to be exhausted along with vapors.

Case Study – Fire in Structure with Smoke Damage Throughout

The case study project is a high-end, multi-story single family residential structure. The exterior consists of stucco/plaster over wood framing. The interior walls and ceilings are constructed of gypsum drywall and/or thin coat plaster over wood framing. The flooring is a combination of carpet, tile and wooden materials. The residence is located on a hillside with beach access in Malibu, CA.

The garage and primary entry is located at street level. The residence is approximately six stories from the entry area to the beach. The residence has approximately five levels which would be considered livable floors. The fire loss occurred in the kitchen of the residence. This area is located on the third level from the beach.

The insurance adjuster retained the services of Environmental Testing Associates (ETA), a southern California environmental consulting firm, to provide fire damage assessment and recommendations.  The purpose of the requested work was to determine the amount of char material and/or ash/fugitive dust, if any, that may have contaminated the subject property and to gather informationnecessary to assist in the planned services necessary for the successful cleaning and restorationfollowing the loss. This information would be used in conjunction with the accepted standards ofcare for treating, cleaning and the decontamination of the impacted areas.

ETA concluded that several areas had been contaminated by char materials and remediation/cleaning was necessary.  Smoke-like odors were also noted within the subject property on all floors.

ETA’s recommendations were specific to each floor and included cleaning, removal of materials that could not be cleaned, and removal of loose items and either cleaning or replacement.  An all encompassing recommendation was the use of filtration.  Here are ETA’s filtration recommendations:

All areas of the residence: HEPA filtered air filtration units should be equipped with charcoal filters. Equipment should be placed generously throughout the residence and must be allowed to run during the entire restoration process. The filters within these units should be frequently/aggressively replaced.

A local restoration company was used to provide the cleaning restoration services.  Once cleaning was completed, there was still a significant smoke odor remaining.  The homeowner’s wife was chemically sensitive and although low VOC cleaning compounds had been used, there was still a concern that any additional use of chemical cleaners may not be effective and also may be harmful to the client.  ETA recommended the use of a non-chemical remediation process, ThermaPureHeat® to complete the off-gassing of smoke-related chemicals and reduce or eliminate the odor.

A southern California based ThermaPure® licensee, was retained to provide the heat services.  Because of the magnitude of the smoke odor and the size and complexity of the structure, it was determined that the target temperature would be between 110ᴼF and 120ᴼF for a duration of 10 to 15 days.  Multiple types of heating equipment were used, dependent on access, ingress, size and complexity of the area.  Electric heaters were used in some areas, hydronic heaters with heat exchangers were used on several floors and some direct-fired propane heaters were used nearer to ground level.  In addition to heaters, fans and negative air machines (HEPA), moisture was introduced to the ambient air to reduce the potential damage effect of long term drying and also to expedite the off-gassing of the smoke related chemicals.  The air exchanges were significant with approximately 3000 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) exhausted.  Particulate that had not been accessible to hand cleaning was aerosolized and captured by the HEPA/carbon filtration, but the bulk of vapor was exhausted to the exterior.

It is extremely difficult to eliminate smoke odor, but on the final walk through the client indicated that he did not detect any odor.  This was a very successful smoke odor reduction project.  Client and adjuster were extremely satisfied with the outcome.  The alternative to this process would have been the expensive removal of many high priced decorative and structural elements.

Written by:

Larry Chase

ThermaPure, Inc.

September 21, 2015