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Potential for Contamination from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Following Fire Activity

When returning to your home or business after a fire, there are items to consider to help safeguard your water quality.

During periods of long stagnation (such as a home being unoccupied for several days), water can pick up off-tastes, odors, or colors from sitting in the pipes inside your house, especially in older plumbing systems. To help combat this, open all cold water taps and run the water for 2-5 minutes to flush the “old” water out before using it for drinking or cooking.
In addition, fire can cause damage to water system plumbing, and plastic pipe materials are particularly susceptible to fire damage. In spite of the Commission’s high-quality water supply, plastic pipe that is damaged by fire can release contamination in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene, into the water. These compounds can cause the water to have an odor similar to gasoline and may have adverse health impacts at elevated concentrations. 
If your home or business has plastic piping and has been damaged by fire, you may consider having your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Neilson Research Corporation is the only certified independent water testing laboratory in our area; their phone number is (541) 770-5678. If you are not a Medford Water Commission customer, contact your local jurisdictions to learn more about the pipe materials in your local water system.
Boiling will not remove these contaminants and should not be used as a barrier if you think you may be impacted with these issues.
For help, contact our Customer Service Department at (541) 774-2430 during normal business hours. Go to https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs for more information on VOCs.

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