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Chemical composition of burnt smell caused by accidental fires

Environmental contaminants
: Heitmann, K.; Wichmann, H.; Bahadir, M.; Gunschera, J.; Schulz, N.; Salthammer, T.


Chemosphere 82 (2011), No.2, pp.237-243
ISSN: 0045-6535
ISSN: 0366-7111
Journal Article
Fraunhofer WKI ()
burnt smell; fire accident; passive sampling; active sampling; SPME; remediation

The chemical composition of the odors typical of fires has recently been deciphered. Basically the constituents are mixtures of acetophenone, benzyl alcohol, hydroxylated derivatives of benzaldehyde, methoxylated and/or alkylated phenols and naphthalene. This finding makes it possible to develop objective, practical analytic measurement methods for the burnt smell as a contribution to improving fire damage assessment and remediation monitoring. With the aid of an artificially produced burnt smell and a panel of testers the odor detection threshold of a test mixture was determined olfactometrically to 2 µg m-3. Using a defined burnt-smell atmosphere in a test chamber, analytical methods with active sampling, the adsorbents XAD 7 and TENAX TA, and GC/MS measurement were then optimized and tested with a view to being able to carry out sensitive quantitative measurement of burnt smells. A further practical method with particular application to the qualitative characterization of this odor is based on the use of a new SPME (solid-phase microextraction) field sampler with DVB/CAR/PDMS (divinylbenzene/CarboxenTM/polydimethylsiloxane) fibers.