Toxicity requirements for fire effluents in building and transportation

In building, fire safety requirements concerning the toxicity of fire effluents exist only in a few countries all over the world. In France, they are specific to building materials containing certain chemical elements such as chlorine and nitrogen, and were introduced in the nineteen seventies to regulate the use of polyurethane foam and PVC in discotheques. In Germany, they apply to non-combustible building materials (e.g. small amounts of resins in mineral wood insulation) with a very low contribution to fire used in escape ways. In Poland and Russia, toxicity requirements are foreseen for flammable materials used in specific cases in public buildings such as hospitals, schools, retirement homes, and cinemas. In China, toxicity requirements basically apply in building, and here particularly for thermal insulation products such as polyurethane. In Japan, building materials have to meet fire gas toxicity requirements, if certain fire performance requirements based on heat release are not met.  

With the exception of France, in all these countries, the toxicity tests are basically conducted with animals. However, in the light of the efforts to limit the use of animals in toxicity testing and of the introduction of fire performance requirements and related fire scenarios, the trend is to analytical tests, as this is already the case in transportation.     

Contrary to buildings with good chances for escape, it is virtually impossible to escape from trains in tunnels, from aircraft or ships. Therefore toxicity requirements have generally been introduced in transportation.

For railways, new European toxicity requirements for materials and components apply. The tests are analytic and the evaluation is based on the toxic potency of the sum of the decomposition products CO, CO2, HCl, HBr, HF, HCN, NOx and SO2. For ships, the requirements are similar and have been adjusted to those used in railways. The toxicity requirements for aircraft of Airbus Industrie may also be revised and adjusted to those of railways. In the USA, too, the trend is to such evaluation procedures in new toxicity tests under development.