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Polyesters: A Review of the Literature on Products of Combustion and Toxicity.

pdf icon Polyesters: A Review of the Literature on Products of Combustion and Toxicity. (13174 K)
Braun, E.; Levin, B. C.

NBSIR 85-3139; 71 p. June 1985.

Fire and Materials, Vol. 10, No. 3-4, 107-124, September/December 1986.


Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC

Available from:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
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combustion products; flame retardants; literature reviews; polyesters; pyrolysis; toxicity; thermal decomposition


The available literature was reviewed to determine the nature and extent of information available on the thermal decomposition products and the toxicity of the combustion products of polyester materials used in consumer applications such as textiles and building construction. This literature review is limited to those publications printed in English through June 1984. The thermal decomposition products of polyesters are a function of temperature and oxygen content of the atmosphere. In general, as the temperature increases, the quantity of heavier hydrocarbons decrease and the production of CO and CO2 increases. The presence of flame retardant additives, such as bromine and chlorine-containg compounds, produce halogenated combustion products. The use of phosphorus and bromine together in the same flame retardant finish increases the concentration of low molecular weight compounds. Thirteen different test protocols have been used to evaluate the toxicity of various types of polyester. Non-flame retarded polyesters give measured LC50 values ranging from 30.5 mg/1 to 95.7 mg/1, while flame retarded polyesters, have LC50 values ranging from 24.0 mg/1 to 38.0 mg/1. Several exceptions, however, are noted. Toxicologists consider these differences to be not significant. In general, the results from large-scale tests are ambiguous because of the presence of other materials in addition to the polyester.