Is Fire Extinguisher Powder Toxic?

Views: 9     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-12-20      Origin: Site

Fire extinguishers are essential safety tools that are required in every home. They help protect lives in case of a fire incident. However, if you have ever used a fire extinguisher, you will agree with me that the type of gas emitted will make you question its toxicity.

Well, there are different types of fire extinguishers. Some contain chemicals that can be harmful, while others are quite safe. Read on for a detailed insight into the different types of fire extinguishers to help you identify the toxic and non-toxic ones.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

There is a wide range of fire extinguishers in the market today. Getting a good understanding of the type of extinguisher in your home is critical.

It helps you determine the best way to use or clean up the chemical in case of a fire outbreak. Fire extinguishers can be classified into several classes, as shown below:

Class ABC Fire Extinguishers

Also known as the standard ABC class, it is the most common type of fire extinguisher. Its main chemical agent is mono ammonium phosphate powder. The chemical can irritate the respiratory system, making it necessary to use the proper protective gear when extinguishing a fire or cleaning up.

Class ABC means they are multipurpose and can extinguish the three categories of fire. They include combustive materials (Class A), flammable liquids (Class B), and flammable gases (Class C). These properties make them a popular option in commercial and residential settings.

ABC fire extinguisher

Class BC Fire Extinguishers

These fire extinguishers are specially designed to extinguish class B (flammable liquids) and class C (flammable gasses) fires. Class BC fire extinguishers contain sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, or a mixture of the two.

Like agents used in class ABC fire extinguishers, Class BC also causes airway irritation but with very low toxicity. The chemical agents used in the extinguisher are in powder form and require users to use proper protective equipment when cleaning and extinguishing a fire.

Class K Fire Extinguishers

Also known as the purple K, this class of fire extinguishers uses a blend of Potassium citrate and Potassium acetate. The agents are also powder-forming and irritate your respiratory system when used without the proper protective gear.

Are Fire Extinguishers Toxic?

No, all dry powder fire extinguishers are non-toxic. The only downside is the skin and respiratory irritation. Besides, it is highly unlikely that you will experience adverse effects from inhaling the fire extinguisher powder.

You are, however, required to seek immediate medical attention if you have been sprayed directly in the eyes or inhaled large amounts of the powder. Overall, the chemical used in most powder fire extinguishers is safe. If you use an extinguisher, ensure you contact a professional to have it re-charged or get a new one.

How Do You Clean Up ABC Fire Extinguisher Powder?

The best way to clean up any chemical is to use the required protective gear. Ammonium phosphate powder used in ABC fire extinguishers can irritate the skin and cause breathing difficulties. It also leaves a residue that corrodes metal when left to sit for a long time.

The cleaning procedure is quite easy. Start by sweeping or using a vacuum cleaner to lift any debris or powder left behind by the fire extinguisher. Ensure you place the residue in a bag for disposal to avoid further exposure.

If the residue is hardened on the surface, you can use a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and warm water to spray the floor. Leave the solution to settle for a few minutes before cleaning it with a clean towel or cloth.

fire extinguishers

Do ABC Fire Extinguishers Last?

Because of the type of chemical used in ABC fire extinguishers, most do not have an expiry date. Nonetheless, they require pressure testing, refills, and regular inspection. You are required to conduct a hydrostatic check every 5 years to ensure they are in top-notch condition.

An ABC fire extinguisher can have a lifespan of more than 5 years if they are given the required attention. Most fire extinguishers have a service tag, which lets you know when the last inspection was conducted and when the next is due.

Final Thoughts

While the agents used in fire extinguishers are typically non-toxic, they can be harmful when inhaled or ingested. But when used correctly and in the right setting, they can be effective pieces of life-saving equipment. Ensure you have the right type of fire extinguisher for specific fire risks.

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