Theoretical evaluation of burns to the human respiratory tract due to inhalation of hot gas in the early stage of fires

Yong Gang Lv, Jing Liu, Jun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


A transient two-dimensional mathematical model for heat and water vapor transport across the respiratory tract of human body was established and applied to predict the thermal impact of inhaled hot gas to the nasal tissues during the early stage of fires. Influences of individual's physiological status and environment variables were comprehensively investigated through numerical calculations. Burn evaluation was performed using the classical Henriques model to predict the time for thermal injury to occur. It was shown that decreasing the air velocity and increasing the respiratory rate is helpful to minimize the burn over the respiratory tract. The effect of relative humidity of surrounding dry hot air could be ignored in predicting burns for short duration exposures. Due to evaporation cooling on the mucousal membrane, the burn 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 to fire, 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 evaluate the injury of hot air to the human respiratory tract under various fire situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-446
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

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


  • Bioheat transfer
  • Burn evaluation
  • Fire injury
  • Respiratory tract
  • Theoretical evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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