NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-85-274-1879, Evaluation of Zinc Chloride Smoke Generating Devices, International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington, D.C.

Zey JN; Richardson F
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 85-274-1879, 1988 Mar; :1-44
In response to a request from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), an assessment was made of hazards to fire fighters (SIC-9224) of using zinc-chloride (7646857) smoke generating devices manufactured by the Superior Signal Company, Inc. (SIC-2899), New Jersey. The devices were used in fire fighter training exercises. Five different smoke generating devices were studied. In addition to zinc compounds, hydrochloric-acid (7647010) and over 50 chlorinated hydrocarbons were detected in smoke clouds. The concentration of hydrochloric-acid ranged as high as 420mg/m3. Zinc- chloride concentrations ranged from 11 to 498mg/m3. A telephone survey was conducted of 62 different fire training organizations around the United States to obtain information they might have on use of similar devices. A literature search revealed that there had been severe adverse health effects, including death, resulting from exposure to a dense smoke cloud from a zinc-chloride smoke generating device. Individuals who were adversely affected were not wearing respiratory protective gear or had malfunctioning gear. Symptoms of exposure included sore throat, difficulty breathing, joint pain, chills and fever, headache, and generalized fatigue. The authors conclude that no smoke generating device should be considered safe and nontoxic, and that measures should be taken to reduce exposures to smoke clouds from such devices. The possibility of using alternative methods to distort vision in fire fighting training exercises should be considered.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; HETA-85-274-1879; Region-3; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; Hazard-Confirmed; Smoke-inhalation; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Zinc-compounds; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Firemen; Air-contamination; Author Keywords: Miscellaneous chemical preparations; Fire Fighters; smoke bomb; smoke generating devices; zinc chloride; hydrochloric acid; chlorinated hydrocarbons
7646-85-7; 7647-01-0
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
2899; 9224
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division