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Role of Bench-Scale Test Data in Assessing Real-Scale Fire Toxicity (NIST TN 1284)



Vyto Babrauskas, Richard H. Harris Jr., E Braun, Barbara C. Levin, M Paabo, Richard Gann


The need was seen for establishing a methodology by which bench-scale fire toxicity methods could be validated against real-scale room fires. The present study is the result of a pilot project in this area. Appropriate validation hypotheses have been put forth and examined in the context of some initial data. Three materials--Douglas fir, rigid polyurethane foam, and PVC--were examined in real-scale and bench-scale methods. The real-scale test environment was a post-flashover fire in a three-compartment (room, corridor, room) geometry, with the test specimens comprising wall lining materials. The bench-scale methods examined were the NBS cup furnace method and a new developmental protocol referred to as the "SwRI/NIST" method. The N-gas Model was applied to the analysis of the data and was found to be consistent with most of the data. The methods were compared for similarity of gas yields, of primary gases, and of types of death. Differences were found in individual cases, but most of those were readily explainable on the basis of an understanding of the test conditions. As a result of these studies, a factor-of-3 agreement between bench-scale and real-scale results was established as both useful and practical.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1284
Report Number


toxicity, polyvinyl chloride, fire tests, polyurethane foams, rigid foams, room tests, wood


Babrauskas, V. , Harris Jr., R. , Braun, E. , Levin, B. , Paabo, M. and Gann, R. (1991), Role of Bench-Scale Test Data in Assessing Real-Scale Fire Toxicity (NIST TN 1284), Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed June 25, 2024)


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Created December 31, 1990, Updated October 12, 2021