Fire Combustion Toxicity Tests—Good Idea or Not?

by Bruce L. Queen,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 5, Pg. 41-43


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: The smoke from burning synthetic materials in buildings is highly toxic and is a key cause of deaths in building fires. If fire codes regulate on the basis of the toxicity of smoke of burning building materials, the bioassay test would be the most likely to be used. Difficulties in using such a test are listed. Certain fires in which smoke from burning synthetics was implicated as the cause of many deaths occurred in buildings that did not meet existing building codes. Rate of heat release of burning materials rather than toxicity, may be the parameter that needs to be addressed next. Many synthetics burn hotter and reach their temperature peak sooner than natural materials such as wood.

Subject Headings: Fire safety | Toxicity | Synthetic materials | Chemical properties

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