Assessing the Cardiovascular and Chemical Risks Faced by Firefighters

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Highlights Flame Retardants in Air and on PPE During Firefighting Operations

May 13, 2020

burned out living room showing a chair and couch charred after a fire

The "Flame retardants, dioxins, and furans in air and on firefighters’ protective ensembles during controlled residential firefightingpeer-reviewed journal article, led by Dr. Kenny Fent from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) Advisory Board and co-authored by Gavin Horn, Research Engineer, UL FSRI, and Steve Kerber, Vice President of Research, Underwriters Laboratories and Director of UL FSRI is available online through Environment International. The article summarizes airborne and personal protective equipment (PPE) contamination levels measured after controlled residential fire attack, and provides an evaluation of a control measure firefighters may implement to control cross contamination.

The purpose of this study was to characterize the airborne and PPE surface contamination levels of flame retardants (FRs), dioxins, and furans during controlled realistic residential fire responses. The study was designed to explore the effectiveness of gross on-scene decontamination, also known as preliminary exposure reduction, at removing different types of FRs from turnout gear. The goal was to provide decision makers in the fire service with practical information to better understand and reduce firefighters’ exposures to these compounds, which in turn, may also reduce the potential for adverse health effects.

This manuscript is derived from the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI)/ UL FSRI, NIOSH Fireground Study, a component of the Cardiovascular & Chemical Exposure Risks in Today’s Fire Service project. Samples were collected during these experiments to address fire service questions regarding chemical exposure risk including flame retardants, dioxins and furans.

UL FSRI partnered with NIOSH, IFSI Research, Skidmore College and William & Mary to publish this manuscript. Funding for this project was provided by the Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant # EMW-2013-FP-00766 & EMW-2016-FP-00379.


About Environment International:

Beginning in 2019, Environment International became an open access journal and further expanded its scope into new areas of research to become a multi-disciplinary journal publishing high quality and novel information within the broad field of 'Environmental Sciences'.

Coverage includes, but is not limited to, the following research topics:

1) Public Health and Health Impact Assessment, Environmental Epidemiology (Prof. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen)

2) Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, Environmental Chemistry (Prof. Adrian Covaci)

3) Environmental Monitoring and Processes, Environmental Microbiology and Toxicology (Prof. Yong-Guan Zhu)

4) Environmental Technology (Prof. Zhen Jason He)