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Fire & Smoke Testing Laboratory

Category Press Release
Publish Date 10/31/2017
Author Alexandra Gentile
Title EMSL San Diego Laboratory Offers Fire Investigative/Combustion By-Products Analysis
Introduction EMSL Analytical, Inc. provides testing services, sampling supplies and test kits to identify smoke residues, mold, asbestos, lead and other potential exposure hazards.

San Diego, CA, October 31st, 2017

Fire investigation testing is used to identify the presence of char, black carbon/soot and ash. The results are often used to determine the extent of property damage, to address the sourcing of the damage or to determine liability. Testing can be used during or after site cleaning in order to guide professionals in their remediation efforts.  

EMSL Analytical, Inc. offers a diverse combination of testing packages as well as customized approaches to address the clients’ specific needs. The analytical complexity level and the overall value of the packages offered increases from level 1 to 4.

Level 1 is a screening level, which is very affordable and valuable for quick and easy assessment of the overall degree of contamination. Levels 2, 3 and 4 offer analysis using the best analytical methods for confirmatory presence of all the analytes of interest (including soot confirmatory analysis based on ASTM D6602).   

Level 1:

Char + Soot* + Ash

Level 2:

Char + Soot (confirmation level) + Ash


Level 3:

Char + Soot (confirmation level) + Ash + Common components of environmental dust (such as fibrous glass, biological material, cellulose, synthetic fibers, pollen, quartz, calcite)


Level 4:

Char + Soot (confirmation level) + Ash + Common components of environmental dust (fibrous glass, biological material, cellulose, synthetic fibers, pollen quartz, calcite) + Elemental composition of soot, char and ash by SEM/EDX + pH (to determine overall corrosivity of the dust)

Contextual Analysis

With the aid of site standards, this comprehensive level of analysis can be applied to determine if the fire debris in the samples are associated with the wildfire under investigation.

*Soot analysis is limited to presumptive analysis level only. Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analysis for confirmation per ASTM D6602 cannot be performed on tape lifts or Zefon CSI cassettes samples. In order to resolve the submicron size and the aciniform morphology of the particles, confirmatory analysis by TEM is needed.


The San Diego laboratory offers level one analysis. The laboratory is located at 7916 Convoy Court, San Diego, CA, making it conveniently accessible to hundreds of local professionals.  The laboratory can be reached at (858) 499-1303. To learn more about fire investigations or other materials testing services, please visit To view a complete list of EMSL’s laboratory locations, accreditations and capabilities, please visit For more information about EMSL’s testing services please call (800) 220-3675 or email

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. is one of the leading testing laboratories with 40 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations.  In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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