Chapter 4: Products of Combustion and Toxicity from Specific Types of Fires1
Published:16 Oct 2015
J. C. Wakefield, in Toxicology, Survival and Health Hazards of Combustion Products, ed. D. A. Purser, R. L. Maynard, and J. C. Wakefield, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015, ch. 4, pp. 79-107.
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The Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division (CHaPD) is frequently required to advise on the health effects arising from incidents due to fires. This chapter, adapted from a review prepared for the Health Protection Agency, considers the toxicity of combustion products from a range of different fire types. Following smoke inhalation, toxicity may result either from thermal injury, or from the toxic effects of substances present. This review considers only the latter, and aims to identify generalisations that may be made regarding the toxicity of common products present in fire smoke, with respect to the combustion conditions (temperature, oxygen availability, etc.), focusing largely on the adverse health effects to humans following acute exposure to these chemicals in smoke. The prediction of toxic combustion products is a complex area and there is the potential for the generation of a huge range of pyrolysis products depending on the nature of the fire and the conditions of burning. Although each fire will have individual characteristics and will ultimately need to be considered on a case by case basis, there are commonalities, particularly with regard to the most important components relating to toxicity. The chapter provides a brief overview of the topics and issues described more fully in the individual book chapters on specific subjects, which are referenced as appropriate.