Research and analysis

Combustion products: a toxicological review

This report (HPA-CHaPD-004) is a review considering the toxicity of combustion products.



This review considers the toxic effects of substances present in smoke inhalation and aims to identify generalisations which 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 product is a complex area and there is the potential for 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.