Polystyrenes: A Review of the Literature on the Products of Thermal Decomposition and Toxicity.
Polystyrenes: A Review of the Literature on the
Products of Thermal Decomposition and Toxicity.
Gurman, J. L.; Baier, L.; Levin, B. C.
NBSIR 85-3277; 86 p. March 1986.
Fire and Materials, Vol. 11, No. 3, 109-130, September
Sponsor:Consumer Product Safety Commission, Bethesda, MD
Available from: National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB86-182284
combustion products; fire data; literature reviews;
polystyrene; pyrolysis products; test methods; toxicity;
The current English literature through 1984 on the
products of pyrolysis and combustion from polystyrenes
and the toxicity of those products is reviewed. Among
57 compounds detected by chemical analyses of the
thermal decomposition products produced under various
atmospheric conditions (vacuum, inert, and oxidative),
the main volatile component is the styrene monomer.
Evidence is provided that the mass fraction of styrene
increases with furnace temperatures at least through 500
Deg. C. At 800 Deg. C and above, the concentration of
styrene decreases. In oxidative atmospheres, carbon
monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (C0(2)) and oxidative
hydrocrbons are formed. The concentrations of CO and
CO(2) are a function of temperature and combustion
conditions, i.e., greater amounts are produced in the
flaming than in the non-flaming mode. Eleven different
test procedures were used to evaluate the toxicity of
the pyrolysis and combustion atmospheres of
polystyrenes. The more toxic environments produced
under flaming conditions appear to be mainly
attributable to CO and CO(2). Incapacitating effects
observed during exposures to non-flaming effluents are
not due to CO and CO(2) but rather to some other
toxicant, probably the styrene monomer. When compared
to other common materials used in buildings and
residences, polystyrenes, in general are among the least