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The Vinyl Institute, A Division of The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc.
65 Madison Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey 07960, (201) 898-6699 Fax (201) 898-6633
Description of materials used in cone calorimeter (and some other) tests:
(All samples are at 6 mm thickness, except as indicated.)
excellent fire performance properties.
In particular, pure PVC will not burn A: NON VINYLS
Cycolac’ CTB acrylonitrile butadiene styrene terpolymer (Borg Warner) (# 29) Cycolac’ KJT acrylonitrile butadiene styrene terpolymer fire retarded with bromine Polymeric system containing acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and some poly(vinyl chloride) Polyacetal: polyformaldehyde (Delrin™, Commercial Plastics) (# 24) Copolymer of ethylene propylene diene rubber (EPDM) and styrene acrylonitrile Kydex™: fire retarded acrylic panelling, blue, (samples were 4 sheets at 1.5 mm thickness siding or vertical blinds, cause less fire hazard than similar samples of wood.
Polycarbonate sheeting (Lexan™ 141-111, General Electric) (# 5) Commercial polycarbonate sheeting (Commercial Plastics) (# 16) Nylon 6,6 compound (Zytel™ 103 HSL, Du Pont) (# 28) Polybutylene terephthalate sheet (Celanex™ 2000-2 polyester, Hoechst Celanese) (# 32) Polyethylene (Marlex™ HXM 50100) (# 34) Polyethylene terephthalate soft drink bottle compound (# 33) Poly(methyl methacrylate) (25 mm thick, lined with cardboard, standard RHR sample) (# 26) plasticizer and other additives used.
Blend of polyphenylene oxide and polystyrene (Noryl™ N190, General Electric) (# 18) Blend of polyphenylene oxide and polystyrene containing 30% fiberglass (Noryl™ GFN-3-70, Polystyrene, Huntsman™ 333 (Huntsman) (# 30) tionally treated with fire retardants.
Fire retarded polystyrene, Huntsman™ 351 (Huntsman) (# 23) Polytetrafluoroethylene sheet (samples were two sheets at 3 mm thickness each, Du Pont) Polyurethane flexible foam, non fire retarded (25 mm thick, Jo-Ann Fabrics) (# 25) Thermoplastic polyurethane containing fire retardants (Estane™, BFGoodrich) (# 27) to measure the fire properties of the rel- Black non-halogen flame retardant, irradiation crosslinkable, polyethylene copolymer cable jacket compound (Unigard™ DEQD-1388, Union Carbide) (# 11) scale and full-scale tests, and interpretthem in terms of overall fire hazard.
Poly(vinyl chloride) rigid weatherable extrusion compound with minimal additives Fire hazard, or the potential for a fire to Poly(vinyl chloride) rigid experimental sheet extrusion compound with smoke suppressant Poly(vinyl chloride) general purpose rigid custom injection moulding compound with impact Chlorinated poly(vinyl chloride) sheet compound (BFGoodrich) (# 7) amount of heat released on burning,rate of heat release, flame spread, Flexibles
Standard flexible poly(vinyl chloride) compound (non-commercial; similar to a wire and cable as well as the specific conditions of the compound) used for various sets of testing (including Cone Calorimeter RHR ASTM round robin; it contains PVC resin 100 phr; diisodecyl phthalate 65 phr; tribasic lead sulphate 5 phr; calcium carbonate 40 phr; stearic acid 0.25 phr (# 21) Flexible wire and cable poly(vinyl chloride) compound (non fire retarded) (BFGoodrich) (# 14) PVC WC SM: Flexible wire and cable poly(vinyl chloride) compound (containing minimal amounts of fire Flexible wire and cable poly(vinyl chloride) compound (containing fire retardants) Flexible vinyl thermoplastic elastomer alloy wire and cable jacket experimental compound, vinyl, including eight flexible, or semi- example of the first of several families of VTE alloys (# 6) rigid, vinyls). Table 1 lists the materi- Flexible vinyl thermoplastic elastomer alloy wire and cable jacket experimental compound, example of the second of several families of VTE alloys (# 3) Flexible vinyl thermoplastic elastomer alloy wire and cable jacket experimental compound, example of the third of several families of VTE alloys (# 2) Semi flexible vinyl thermoplastic elastomer alloy wire and cable jacket experimental compound, example of a family of VTE alloys containing CPVC (# 4) als, a sequence number (by which theyare identified in Figures and Tables)and a short description. Figures are pre-sented in such a way that the better fireresponses tend to be at the top.
If a material does not ignite, there is no
Ignition Temperatures
first line of defense in a fire. In fact, ASTM D1929 (Setchkin Test)
however, all organic materials do ignite, but the higher the temperature a materi-al has to reach before it ignites, the safer it is. Thus, it is possible to deter- test). Figure 1 presents the self-ignition common materials.3-5 The PVC materi-al tested has a flash ignition tempera- ing ignitability is to determine a time to needed to ignite the material. This canbe done using a modern standard test, ASTM E1354 (cone calorimeter). Fireperformance improves as either one of 2 (page 4) shows some results of thistest, the minimum ignition fluxes Temperature (Degrees C)
Ease of Extinction
Once ignited, the easier a material is
to extinguish, the lower the fire hazard
associated with it. One of the most
Ignition Minimum Fluxes*
ASTM E1354 (Cone Calorimeter)
D2863), an ease of extinction test. Itgives the limiting concentration of oxy- reflect greater ease of extinction). This Flame Spread
ments. PVC materials tend to performvery well in both tests: UL 94 V-0 and However, both of these fire tests havebeen criticized because they are not spread tests for full-scale testing, but a (Figure 4, on a logarithmic scale)3-4show PVC as one of the materials with Min Ignition Flux (kW/m^2)
TTI: 600 s
TTI:100 s
*materials listed are identified in Table 1
Limited Oxygen Index
ASTM D2843 Test

Surface Flammability
ASTM E162 Test

Log (Flame Spread Index)
Heat Release
The key question in a fire is: “How big
Peak RHR of Materials (OSU)
is the fire?” The one fire property that Incident Flux of 20 kW/m^2
answers that question is the rate of heat gives off enough heat to ignite them.
air surrounding anything not on fire.
available for potential victims of a fire to kill. Therefore, fire fatalities occur when the rate of heat release of the fire Peak RHR (kW/m^2)
is sufficiently large to cause many (oreven most) products in the room of fire origin to burn. Peak RHR of Materials (Cone)
Weighted Average of 20, 40, 70 kW/m^2
Peak RHR (kW/m^2)
the most important of which areignitability, a ratio of ignitability andheat release known as the fire perfor-mance index (for which performanceimprovements correspond to higher values), mass loss rate and smokerelease. Moreover, results from thisinstrument correlate with those fromfull-scale fires.15-17 In order to get an overall view of thefire performance of materials, it isimportant to test materials under a vari-ety of conditions. Therefore, test results often are carried out at a variety of inci-dent heat fluxes. Figures 6-9 (pages 6-8) Ignitability of Materials (Cone)
Weighted Average of 20, 40, 70 kW/m^2
materials. The peak rates of heat release rials is based on the increasing value of the peak rate of heat release at an inci- lower rates of heat release than vinyl.
those involving testing of upholsteredfurniture (ASTM E1537, CA TB 133), Log (Time To Ignition) (s)
mattresses (ASTM E1590, CA TB 129),electrical cables (UL 1685), packagingsystems (UL 2019), plastic displaystands (UL 1975), or wall lining prod-ucts (UBC 42-2, ISO 9705). In everycase, whenever applicable, results indi-cate that products based on properly formulated PVC materials are invariablytop-rated performers.
Smoke Obscuration
Decreased visibility is a serious concern
Log [Ave Fire Performance Index]
Weighted Average of 20, 40, 70 kW/m^2
decreases visibility is by the release of obscuration and rate of heat release.
Log FPI (s m^2/kW)
(ASTM E662). This test has now beenexhaustively proven to be seriously flawed; the principal deficiencies identi-fied are shown in Table 3.18-22 The most Smoke Release From Materials (Cone)
Weighted Average of 20, 40, 70 kW/m^2
Log (SmkFct) (MW/m^2)
smoke chamber is the effect of sampleorientation. Some materials melt or drip Peak Rate of Heat Release in the Cone Calorimeter
portions escape the effect of the radiant ucts are exposed horizontally, the entire ence in test results shown in Table 4).18 would be formed in a realistic scenario.
Deficiencies in the NBS smoke chamber
Effect of Orientation on Smoke Density
(NBS Chamber)

Results do not correlate with full-scale fires Vertical orientation leads to melt and drip Maximum incident radiant flux is 25 kW/m2 Rational units of m^2/kg are not available Figure 10
NBS Smoke Chamber Results
Maximum Smoke Density: ASTM E662
heat release) shows how smoke obscu-ration produced by the smoke chamber rate of heat release in the full-scale test Toxicity
at least to some extent, with the toxicity lower). The figure clearly puts into per- toxicities of all organic materials (with for this is that the most important toxic fatalities associated with CO, whichwas published in 1992.26 This study, Dm (F or NF)
examining almost 5,000 fatalities,found that the toxicity of fire atmos-pheres is determined almost exclusively by CO. Moreover, there is no minimumlethal CO threshold level (which was Results of Corner Burn Room Fire Test
previously thought to be 50% carboxy-hemoglobin, COHb), since any blood duce lethality, depending on the victim.
NIST has since developed a new, anddefinitive, smoke toxicity test, leadingto the following main conclusions: 27-30 ■ Most fatalities occur in fires thatbecome very big; that is, go toflashover.
■ The concentrations of CO in the fireatmospheres of those flashover fires arevirtually unaffected by the materialsburning. The corresponding yields ofCO are approximately 0.2 grams pergram mass of fuel burned, which trans-lates to a toxic potency of 25 mg/L, fora 30 minute exposure.
■ Conventional small-scale fire testsalways predict concentrations of COthat are much lower than the full-scaleones. Therefore, when assessing realfires using small-scale test data, real-scale CO concentrations must be fac-tored in by a calculated correction toobtain relevance to real flashover fires.
■ The new NIST radiant small-scaletoxicity test has been well validated Figure 11
against toxicity in full-scale fires.
However, such a validation cannot be Toxic Potency (Lethal Dose) of Substances and of Smoke
(LD50 in mg/kg)
Slightly Toxic
mg/L (i.e. its toxicity is less than that Categories
Table 6 shows the results of testing anumber of products (including severalvinyls) with this test.31 Corrected toxicpotency values (Corr LC ) are deter- mined taking into account the full-scaleconcentrations of carbon monoxide. It is very clear that all vinyl materials arewell within the normal range of toxicity, NIST Radiant Toxicity Test Results
the table, to highlight the fact that their HEALTH EFFECTS OF
materials, both natural and synthetic.1, 3 the susceptibility of different animals to lethality due to irritants (like HCl) 32-33 similar to those of humans — namely,rats and baboons.29, 32-33, 40-41 The data are Acrylic F: Acrylic fabric; Composite: Naval composite board; Dg FIR: Fire retarded Douglas fir board; FLX PU FM: Flexible polyurethane foam; MELFM: Melamine polyurethane foam; Nylon: Nylon wire coating com- pound; Nylon Rug (Tr): Treated with PTFE coating; Nylon Rug (Un): Untreated; PR FULL: Predicted CarbonMonoxide Post Flashover Toxicity; PVC CB: PVC cable insulation; PVC INS: traditional PVC wire insulation compound; PVC JK: traditional PVC wire jacketing compound; PVC Lw HCl: PVC jacket compound + abundant acid retention filler; PVC Md HCl: PVC jacket compound + moderate acid retention filler; PVC PRF: Rigid PVC profile; Rg PU FM: Rigid polyurethane foam; Vinyl F: Vinyl fabric; Vinyl FLR: Vinyl flooring over plywood hazard: a very pungent odor, detectableat a level of less than 1 ppm,42 whileCO is odorless and narcotic. Therefore,HCl will signal people in a fire atmos-phere to escape, while CO will narco-tize them.
Table 7 also shows the highest concen-tration of these gases found in two Lethal Exposure Doses for Common Gases
corresponding 30 minute lethal value.
(a) Odor detection level; Reference 42.
(b) 30 min exposure; within exposure deaths; Reference 41.
(c) 30 min exposure; within exposure deaths; Reference 29; N-gas model.
fires is that the HCl “decays.” In other (d) 30 min exposure; within + post-exposure deaths; Reference 40.
(e) 30 min exposure; within + post-exposure deaths; References 29; N-gas model.
(f) 30-60 min exposure; post-exposure deaths; Reference 32.
(g) 5-15 min exposures; with no deaths; Reference 32.
(h) 30 min exposure; post-exposure deaths; References 29, 40; N-gas model.
(i) 5 min exposure; post-exposure deaths; Reference 33.
of studies was done to investigate the “lifetime” of HCl in a fire atmos-phere.45-49 These studies showed that the Figure 12
peak HCl concentration found in a fireis much lower than would be predicted HCI Concentration Measured in a PMMA 200l Box
from the chlorine content of the burningmaterial. Moreover, this peak concen- HCI OBS-HCI CALC (ppm/1000)
Clean Box
Marinite Board
pears completely from the air. Figure12 shows the HCl concentration-time pattern for several experiments wherePVC wire insulation (containing the chlorine equivalent of 8,700 ppm of HCl) was electrically decomposed in the presence of various sorptive sur- faces, in a small chamber. In one exper-iment, all internal surfaces of the cham- Cement Block
Miniplenum – 70% RH
(gypsum board and ceiling tile), simu-lating a plenum. The peak HCl concen- tration found was only 10% of the theo-retical concentration.
A computer fire model also was devel-oped to assess HCl transport and decay as seen in these experiments.50 Themodel, which is capable of predictingHCl decay whether it originates from Time (min)
source,51 has now been incorporatedinto the NIST fire hazard assessmentmodel (HAZARD I).52 large-scale experiments.45, 53-55 The first range as that of many other materials.
long air conditioning duct.53 Here, 3,000 PVC PERFORMANCE IN
burns, it releases HCl, which is irritat- gases in that its concentration in the gas the ignition source itself (a wood crib).
that the vinyl panels generated so littleheat or smoke is that most of the vinyl and NIST [59], involved PVC cablesinstalled in concealed spaces in hotels.
The outcome was that cables with thefire performance of PVC were unlikelyto add significantly to the fire risk asso-ciated with the other materials present. REFERENCES
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a model for hydrogen chloride transport and decay Gardner, A.F. Grand, M.M. Hirschler and G.F.
33. H.L. Kaplan, A.F. Grand, W.G. Switzer, D.S.
to predict airborne hydrogen chloride concentra- Smith, “Hydrogen chloride transport and decay in tions in a full scale room-corridor scenario,” a large apparatus. I. Decomposition of poly(vinyl chloride) wire insulation in a plenum by current Performance of the Baboon and the Rat,” overload,” J. Fire Sciences, 4, 15-41 (1986).
56. I.A. Benjamin, “Toxic hazard analysis: electrical non-metallic tubing,” J. Fire Sciences, 5, 25 46. C.A. Bertelo, W.F. Carroll, M.M. Hirschler 34. H.L. Kaplan, and G.E. Hartzell, “Modeling and G.F. Smith, “Thermal decomposition of of Toxicological Effects of Fire Gases: I.
poly(vinyl chloride). Kinetics of generation 57. M.M. Hirschler, “First order evaluation of fire Incapacitating effects of narcotic fire gases,” and decay of hydrogen chloride in large and hazard in a room due to the burning of poly(vinyl small systems and the effect of humidity,” in chloride) products in a plenum: estimation of 35. K.I. Darmer, E.R. Kinkead and L.C. DiPasquale, “Fire Safety Science, Proceedings of the 1st the time required to establish an untenable atmos- “Acute Toxicity in Rats and Mice Exposed International Symposium” (C.E. Grant and P.J.
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to Hydrogen Chloride Gas and Aerosols,” 58. F.M. Galloway and M.M. Hirschler, “Fire hazard J. American Industrial Hygienists Association, in a room due to a fire starting in a plenum: Effect 47. J.J. Beitel, C.A. Bertelo, W.F. Carroll, A.F.
of poly(vinyl chloride) wire coating,” in “Fire and 36. H.L. Kaplan, R.K. Hinderer and A. Anzueto, Polymers: Hazards Identification and Prevention” “Extrapolation of Mice Lethality Data to “Hydrogen chloride transport and decay in a (Ed. G.L. Nelson), ACS Symposium Series 425, Humans,” J. Fire Sciences, 5, 149 (1987).
large apparatus: II. Variables affecting hydrogen Amer. Chem. Soc., Washington, DC, Chapter 28, chloride decay,” J. Fire Sciences, 5, 105-45 37. H.L. Kaplan, A. Anzueto, W.G. Switzer and R.K.
Hinderer, “Effects of Hydrogen Chloride on 59. R.W. Bukowski, F.B. Clarke, J.R. Hall and S.W.
Respiratory Response and Pulmonary Function 48. F.M. Galloway, M.M. Hirschler and G.F. Smith, Stiefel, Fire Risk Assessment Method: Case Study of the Baboon,” J. Toxicol. Environ. Hlth 23, “Model for the generation of hydrogen chloride 3, Concealed Combustibles in Hotels, National from the combustion of poly(vinyl chloride) Fire Protection Research Foundation, NFPA, under conditions of forcefully minimized decay,” 38. H.L. Kaplan, W.G. Switzer, M.M. Hirschler and A.W. Coaker, “Evaluation of smoke toxic poten-cy test methods: comparison of the NBS cup fur- 49. F.M. Galloway, M.M. Hirschler and G.F. Smith, nace, the radiant furnace and the UPITT tests,” “Surface parameters from small scale experi- ments used for measuring HCl transport anddecay in fire atmospheres,” Fire and Materials, 39. R.K. Hinderer and M.M. Hirschler, “The toxicity of hydrogen chloride and of the smoke generatedby poly(vinyl chloride), including effects on vari- 50. F.M. Galloway and M.M. Hirschler, “Model for This report has been prepared by the Technical ous animal species, and the implications for fire the mass transfer and decay of hydrogen chloride Committee of the Vinyl Institute as a service to safety,” in “Characterization and Toxicity of in a fire scenario,” in “Mathematical Modeling of its members and their customers and is based on Smoke,” ASTM STP 1082, Amer. Soc. Testing Fires. ASTM STP 983,” (J.R. Mehaffey, editor), literature and information believed to be accurate.
and Materials, Philadelphia, PA, Ed. H.J.
American Society for Testing and Materials, No warranty or guaranty, expressed or implied, is made for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein and neither the VinylInstitute nor its members or contributors assume any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this document.



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