Stec, Anna A and Hull, T Richard
Assessment of the fire toxicity of building insulation materials.
Energy and Buildings, 43
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2010.10.015
A significant element in the cost of a new building is devoted to fire safety. Energy efficiency drives the replacement of traditional building materials with lightweight insulation materials, which, if flammable can contribute to the fire load. Most fire deaths arise from inhalation of toxic gases. The fire toxicity of six insulation materials (glass wool, stone wool, expanded polystyrene foam, phenolic foam, polyurethane foam and polyisocyanurate foam) was investigated under a range of fire conditions. Two of the materials, stone wool and glass wool failed to ignite and gave consistently low yields of all of the toxic products. The toxicities of the effluents, showing the contribution of individual toxic components, are compared using the fractional effective dose (FED) model and LC50 (the mass required per unit volume to generate a lethal atmosphere under specified conditions). For polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foam this shows a significant contribution from hydrogen cyanide resulting in doubling of the overall toxicity, as the fire condition changes from well-ventilated to under-ventilated. These materials showed an order of increasing fire toxicity, from stone wool (least toxic), glass wool, polystyrene, phenolic, polyurethane to polyisocyanurate foam (most toxic).
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