Phillips, Anne W., MD The Effects Of Smoke On Human Behavior. Fire Journal. Vol. 72. May 1978. pp. 69-83.
Abstract: This article explains the body's reactions to smoke and gas inhalation. Visible smoke that contains particle of matter and invisible smoke, which is usually consists of fire gases are both discussed.
Visible smoke contains tiny particles of matter that are too large to be inhaled. These particles may become stuck in the nose, mouth, and throat and the acids they produce may cause vomiting and nausea. The particles may also become caught in the eyes causing extreme discomfort. These symptoms together make it difficult for the victim to think clearly and escape efficiently. This means victims are usually exposed to flames and gas inhalation for longer periods of time.
Gas inhalation has many effects on humans. It is difficult to give a complete list of effects because different burned materials produce different combinations of gases. Many gases cause victims to become disoriented, making them unable to find an exit. Some gases cause eye irritation also making an escape difficult. Some gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, affect the central nervous system before affecting the lungs. This will cause unconsciousness before the victim realizes the gas being inhaled is toxic. Most gases cause oxygen deprivation. The lack of oxygen causes irrational thought and functions. The victim believes he is behaving normally, when actually he is very disoriented. The effects gas inhalation has on human reactions to fire, such as fear and panic, are also discussed.
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