Combustion and Toxic Gas Production from Disposable Barbecues in Enclosures

Crewe, Robert John, Andrews, Stephen Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0878-1182, Hull, T Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7970-4208, Birbeck, Paul N. and Stec, Anna A orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6861-0468 (2014) Combustion and Toxic Gas Production from Disposable Barbecues in Enclosures. Journal of Forensic Science, 59 (1). pp. 127-138. ISSN 0022-1198

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The production of carbon monoxide from disposable barbecues in an enclosed room has been investigated. Hazard calculations have shown that lethal concentrations of CO and CO2 can be produced easily. Burning rates and the relative formation of CO and CO2 depend on the ambient oxygen concentration. Smoke does not correlate with CO concentration as it is mostly produced by the combustion of volatile hydrocarbons added to facilitate ignition. In a typical room, this results in smoke clearing before the maximum CO concentration is reached. Smoke obscuration is therefore a poor indicator of the danger posed by CO. This is an important observation for those discovering or attempting to resuscitate or rescue comatose victims. Dilution caused by ventilation is described numerically and has allowed total volumes of CO and CO2 produced to be estimated.

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