• Acute exposure guideline levels;
  • acute toxicity;
  • damage differential coupling;
  • time-varying concentration;
  • toxic chemical release

The calculation of damage level due to the exposure to a toxic cloud is usually not included in most popular software, or it is included using techniques that do not take into account the variation in concentration over a period of time. In this work, a method is introduced for calculating the temporal evolution of the potential damage level and to obtain a more precise and descriptive estimation of this level. The proposed goal is:

  • • 
    to estimate the maximum and minimum damage level experienced by a population due to the exposure to an airborne chemical with a time-varying concentration;
  • • 
    to be able to assess the damage level experienced in a progressive way, as the exposure to the airborne chemical occurs.

The method relies on transformations of time-concentration pairs on a continuum of damage level curves based on the available guideline levels, obtaining maximum and minimum approximations of the expected damage level for any exposure duration. Consequently, applying this method to transport model output data and demographic information, damage evolution in relation to time and space can be predicted, as well as its effect on the local population, which enables the determination of threat zones. The comparison between the proposed method and the current (Spanish and ALOHA) ones showed that the former can offer a more precise estimation and a more descriptive approach of the potential damage level. This method can be used by atmospheric dispersion models to compute damage level and graphically display the regions exposed to each guideline level on area maps.