What Is A PIC Hazard?
Hey, everyone. This is David Hodge with another Quick Tip with Reets Drying Academy.
Listen, if you’re going to be working on fire damage projects, always remember the stuff that you’re dealing with can be extremely hazardous.
People call it ash, charr, and soot and there’s a problem in this industry with people going in cleaning with nothing but their street clothes on and at best they might have a in N95 nitrile gloves. But is that the proper protection that you’re going to need when working on these projects?
There’s many more hazards, many more hazards in these jobs than just ash, charr, and soot.
What about all the chemicals produced? That’s why we call it PIC, or Products of Incomplete Combustion. There’s much more on these jobs than just what you’re seeing. OK? You have chemicals, one in particular is benzo(a)pyrene.
A Mini History Lesson About Benzo(a)pyrene
We’ll give you a little bit of history. Back in the late 1700s there was a gentleman named Sir Percivall Pott. He was doing a study on gentlemen in Sweden that were doing chimney sweeps. Now, understand back in the late 1700s fireplaces were built a little bit different than what we have now. And these gentlemen were going in, usually younger gentlemen, cleaning these things naked.
Now, also back then they did not have as good hygiene as we do now. But let me ask you, what were they burning in those fireplaces? Was it starter logs with all the chemicals in them? It was just wood, wood products. But during this time when you burn stuff in the fireplace, you get something that develops inside of a chimney called: creosote.
Now, that tarry substance that’s inside your chimney also can contain chemicals such as benzo(a)pyrene. And what was happening is these gentlemen were going in to clean and then over time, since they didn’t have good hygiene, those chemicals were actually absorbing into their skin.
These guys were developing scrotal cancer under his research. That’s how far back this goes now, I don’t know about you, but me personally, I would rather NOT develop scrotal cancer. Actually, I’d rather not develop cancer from any occupational exposure to be all that.
So, How Do You Protect Yourself?
How do you protect yourself? Now understand, PPE according to OSHA is a last resort. But in your jobs, most of the time, that’s your first option. You better wear the proper PPE.
What is proper? That’s determined based upon the hazards that are present or likely to be there. You can’t just assume that one level of PPE is a fit all for everything. For more information regarding hazards and other issues on fire damage projects, please see this on another quick tip.