Evaluation of Potential Toxicity of Smoke from Controlled Burns of Furnished Rooms – Effect of Flame Retardancy

The claim is often made that incorporation of fire retardants into home furnishings and electronics increases the toxicity of smoke produced during combustion in house fires, likely by the increased generation of high acid gases and products of incomplete combustion (PICs). These reports have been limited to exercises in analytical chemistry; the biological effects of the emissions, particularly with respect to chronic toxicity have not been investigated. The purpose of our study was to compare the combustion of furnishings with and without chemical flame retardants with regards to ignition resistance and fire progression, chemical composition of smoke and potential chronic toxicity of smoke.

Key Takeaways:

  • FRs do not increase smoke toxicity
  • FRs slow the rate of fire growth, resulting in delay in the reduction of O2 levels
  • NFR burn produced 2x total smoke compared with FR burn