Theoretical evaluation on burn injury of human respiratory
tract due to inhalation of hot gas at the early stage of fires

Yong-gang Lv, and Jing Liu
Cryogenic Laboratory, P.O. Box 2711
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, P. R. China

Jun Zhang
Laboratory for High Performance Scientific Computing and Computer Simulation
Department of Computer Science
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0046, USA


A transient two-dimensional mathematical model for the heat and water vapor transport over the respiratory tract of human body was established and applied to predict the thermal impact of inhaled hot air during the early stage of fires. Influences of individual's physiological status and environment variables were comprehensively investigated. Burn evaluation was performed using the classical Henriques model to predict the time for thermal injury. It was shown that decreasing the air velocity and increasing the respiratory rate is helpful to minimize the thermal injury in the respiratory tract. The effect of relative humidity of surrounding dry hot air could be ignored in predicting the burn injuries for short duration exposures. Due to evaporation cooling on the mucousal membrane, the burn injury often occurs at certain positions underneath the skin of the tract near the inlet of the respiratory tract. Most of the tissues near the surface suffer injury immediately after exposure, while in the deeper tissues, serious damage occurs after a relatively longer time period. The method presented in this paper may suggest a valuable approach to theoretically evaluating the injury of hot air to the human respiratory tract under various fire situations.

Key words: Burn evaluation; Fire injury; Theoretical evaluation; Respiratory tract; Bioheat transfer

Mathematics Subject Classification:

Download the compressed postscript file, or the PDF file liu1.pdf.
Technical Report 435-05, Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 2005.

This is partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant 50325622.