Is Fire Extinguisher Powder Toxic?

Views: 17     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-12-20      Origin: Site

Fire extinguishers are essential safety tools that are required in every home. These incredible tools are designed to help protect lives in case of a fire incident. And 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.

There are also a couple of different types of fire extinguishers. Some contain chemicals that can be harmful, while others are quite safe. Read on for a detailed insight into some of the most common types of fire extinguishers in the market to help you identify the non-toxic and toxic ones.


Main Types of Fire Extinguishers

There is an array of fire extinguishers in the market today. For this reason, 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

This is also known as the standard ABC class. It is the most common type of fire extinguisher. The main chemical agent used in this extinguisher is mono ammonium phosphate powder. It can irritate the respiratory system, and therefore, it’s 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. These fires include combustive materials (Class A), flammable liquids (Class B), and flammable gases (Class C). Technically, its properties make them a popular option in commercial and residential settings.

Class BC

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

Also known as the purple K, this class of fire extinguishers uses a blend of Potassium citrate and Potassium acetate. Its agents are also powder-forming and irritate your respiratory system when not used with the proper protective gear.

Are Fire Extinguishers Toxic?

No, all dry powder fire extinguishers are non-toxic. The only disadvantages is the skin and respiratory irritation. 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 in case you have been sprayed directly in the eyes or inhaled large amounts of the powder. Regardless, 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.

Cleaning Up of ABC Fire Extinguisher Powder

Cleaning an extinguisher is quite straightforward. Among the best ways 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.

You can 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 an equal portion solution of warm water and isopropyl alcohol to spray the floor. Leave the solution to settle for a few minutes before cleaning it with a clean towel or cloth.

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 required type of fire extinguisher for the specific fire risks.

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