Facts on Flammability

Slide 28 of 37

Toxicity is a complex issue. It is generally agreed that carbon monoxide is the greatest hazard because it is rapidly produced during combustion and is present in the largest amount.

But it must be remembered that all organic materials are carbon-based and they will burn consuming oxygen to produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and carbon either as smoke, soot or char. In the combustion of carbon about two-thirds of the heat evolved comes from the production of carbon dioxide.

The combined hazard is the depletion of oxygen, the increase in carbon dioxide, the concentration of carbon monoxide, the smoke, the elevated room temperature (which is often the most disabling), and the presence of other toxins and irritants which generally are slower building and have less impact on escape and survival.