Treated Hay Can Release Hydrogen Cyanide in Fire

Issue 6 and Volume 130.

Treated Hay Can Release Hydrogen Cyanide in Fire features Burning hay treated with chemical preservatives containing ethoxyquin (6 – ethoxy – 1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline) and BHT (butylated hydroxy-toluene) produces hydrogen cyanide gas. The chemical mixture, which also contains monosodium phosphate, is used to preserve hay; to treat silage, grain and feed; and to minimize the wilting of lettuce. The amount of chemical treatment varies with the amount of moisture present in the media being treated. Ethoxyquin and BHT by themselves are generally recognized as safe. Ethoxyquin has been used to prevent apple scald. BHT is present in many grocery items and is reported to have practically no systemic toxicity1. Laboratory analysis by infrared spectroscopy indicated that even small quantities of the chemical hay preservative, when heated, produced considerable amounts of hydrogen cyanide gas. About 0.3 grams (0.01 ounches) of the preservative was heated at 240° F (115°C) for 15 minutes. Gases produced…

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