Fire toxicity - The elephant in the room?

Stec, Anna A orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6861-0468 (2017) Fire toxicity - The elephant in the room? Fire Safety Journal, 91 . pp. 79-90. ISSN 0379-7112

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Fire toxicity is the largest cause of death and injury from unwanted fires, yet it is the least well studied area of fire science and engineering. Fire toxicity increases by factors up to 50, as the fire becomes under-ventilated. This has proved difficult, but not impossible, to replicate in a controlled way on a bench-scale. Clear correlations have been observed between the stoichiometric equivalence ratio, and the yields of the major asphyxiants, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. In addition, irritant components of fire effluents, which have an instantaneous effect, can incapacitate fire victims, trapping them in a fire. However, the longer term toxicants present in fire effluents, such as the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the microscopic particulates which result from their agglomeration are probably responsible for hundreds or thousands more deaths than the acute asphyxiants and irritants.

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