At least 17 test methods have been developed to examine the acute toxicity of thermal decomposition products produced in fires. However, a consensus has not been reached on a method of integrating this information into a fire risk assessment. This paper suggests a fire risk assessment methodology with the goal of improving risk management and reducing future fire deaths. Following hazard identification, four steps are presented: (1) calculation of the probability that a material will be present in a fire, (2) estimation of smoke concentrations in specific fire scenarios, (3) determination of the qualitative and quantitative nature of toxic effects of smokes, and (4) estimation of the likelihood of the toxic injury resulting to humans based on correlations between animal models and humans. A concentration-time product is used in estimating exposure, since recent reports indicate it is likely to be the most appropriate method for comparing the toxicity of smokes with each other and to pure gases.
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