What is smoke and why is it so harmful?

By Sam Gocher
Tuesday 23rd May, 20232 minute to read

In this blog, we’re going to take it back to the basics. We’re going to run through exactly what smoke is and why it’s so harmful to us.

If after the blog you feel you’d like to learn some more, please take a look at our learning academy. This is where you’ll find our full range of educational, virtual CPDs.

There are four main components to smoke. There’s the particulate matter which is actually soot. It goes into your lungs and if you’re exposed to too much, oxygen starvation will occur.

The next item is poisonous vapours. These settle on your skin and eyes, causing chemical burns.

Then we have toxic gases. These can take many different forms and are primarily caused by things such as burning furniture and different items in our homes. These are gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. Phosgene gas is also a possibility. This was actually a gas which was used to poison ground troops in World War 1. Its effects are exactly the same in a fire scenario. It burns things such as your throat lining and your lungs.

Then we have a slightly more obvious one, heat. If you’ve worked with smoke ventilation systems, you’ve probably heard the term SHEV. This is smoke and heat exhaust ventilation. It’s just as important to get the heat out of the building as it is the smoke, as heat can lead to structural collapse.

We’ll finish this blog on the psychological effects of smoke. Studies have shown that people would rather return to a danger zone such as a burning room instead of passing through the smoke filled area where they don’t know what’s happening.

This really was a brief overview, and we can offer some more information in our wide range of CPDs. If you’d like to find out some more about our specific products, we have a real wide range of videos which delve into the specs and performance of each product.

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What is smoke and why's it so harmful?

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