Posted on 15/01/2021 in Building & Construction Fire Safety
Questions on smoke toxicity

A webinar with experts and regulators underlined the complexity of smoke toxicity, showing that regulation of fire toxicity emissions of construction products is currently neither feasible nor appropriate.
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, underlined the need to avoid increasing fire risks of combustible materials in “green” buildings.
Fulvia Raffaelli, Euroopean Commission DG GROW, underlined that all smoke is toxic, but that there are today no clear links between construction products smoke toxicity and fire fatalities. Renovation and insulation materials can significantly impact fire safety, but further studies are needed on the relevant significance of building materials and contents. DG GROW is interested to cooperate with stakeholders to further study smoke toxicity.
Peter Woodburn, Arup UK, noted that although both construction products and building contents contribute to fire, fire usually starts in contents. To date, toxicity is considered too complex to integrate into building design. Modelling studies are underway but more data is needed under different fire conditions.
Brian Martin, UK Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, also noted that smoke is always toxic, and that the most important is to avoid fires starting. The UK is launching an R&D project to collect data to define whether regulation of smoke toxicity of building products would be appropriate This will consider the smoke toxicity contributions from construction products and contents, how to define testing methods to reflect real fire conditions and possible thresholds for emissions of certain toxicants. One option could be to address certain specific materials with particularly toxic smoke emissions.

“Improving fire safety by assessing the toxicity of smoke from burning construction products”, webinar, 19th November 2020

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