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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    May 2000
    Lincoln, NE

    Default How many chemicals are in smoke?

    Hello...I'm trying to find out how many chemicals are in the smoke of a typical structure fire. I tried to search it on the Internet, and could only get the chemicals in Cigarette smoke. I've heard that in the 50's, there were 19, and now there are over 4,000. Is that correct? Was hoping to enlist the help of a few braniacs on the forum. Thanks for the help...

  2. #2
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Dec 1999
    NW Ohio


    depends on whats on fire.....wood, plasitcs, flam liquids ..all of them ? I bet 4 K isnt that far off ...
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  3. #3
    Forum Member emtbff927's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    central Texas


    It depends highly on what's burning, what temperature it's burning at, etc... I doubt it is possible to come up with a set number when so many variables are involved.
    When the fire reaches a certain temp., most of the products are CO and Hydrogen cyonide. A few of the more common products in a "typical stucture fire" are: CO, Hydrogen cyanide, Acrolein, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen chloride, Hydrogen Flouride, Phosgene, Nitrogen oxides, Nitriles, Tolylene diisocyanate (TDI), glutaraldehyde, benzene, SO2.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
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    Sep 2000
    Westchester Co., NY USA


    Back in Sept. or Oct. of 2004 Fire Engineering had a supplement to their issue that addressed hydrogen cyanide in smoke. I cannot remember if it also discussed any others but it was a good read. I'm sure they still have to have copies of it. You can also check NIOSH and see what they have under their testing they do. They often have great fire models in their research section so perhaps they have something on smoke as well. EPA might also have something.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Deleted by the forum gremlins


    I think it might be relatively easy to pin down the main components of smoke (carbon, CO, CO2, etc.), but there are so many variables that it would be damn near impossible to pin down all the combinations.

    Is there a particular reason you're asking that might limit the list of components?

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

  6. #6
    Forum Member Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    Mar 2000
    Niagara Falls, NY, USA


    Generally stated the products of complete combustion are CO2 and H2O. When the combustion is not complete as in a normal structure fire you get CO and carbon added into the mix. Products added to pressure treat the lumber used to construct the building can contribute heavy metals such as arsenic to the smoke, along with HCN, HCL, and the other chemicals mentioned in previous posts.

    I do believe that the 4,000 chemicals in todays smoke is reasonably accurate.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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