Compared to the general population, firefighters are known to sustain greater levels of exposure to hazardous compounds, despite their personal protective equipment, also known as turnout gear. Among the most significant toxins that firefighters are chronically exposed to are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Additionally, firefighters have also been noted to exhibit an increased incidence of certain types of cancer. Considering a probable link between exposure to PAHs and increased rates of cancer in the fire service, we aim to document ambient chemical concentrations in the firefighter work environment. Our strategy involves the use of silicone-based wristbands that have the capacity to passively sorb PAHs. To determine if wristbands can serve as an effective chemical monitoring device for the fire service, silicone wristbands were pilot-tested as personal sampling devices for work environment risk monitoring in active-duty firefighters. Recovered wristbands underwent multiple extraction steps, followed by GC-MS analysis to demonstrate their efficacy in monitoring PAHs in the firefighter environment. Initial findings from all wristband samples taken from firefighters showed multiple exposures to various PAHs of concern for the health of the firefighters when in a fire environment. In addition to PAH monitoring, we examined known and potential sources of PAH contamination in their work environment. To that end, profiles of elevated PAH concentrations were documented at various fire stations throughout South Florida, for individual firefighters both during station duties and active fire response.
- Environmental and occupational exposure
- Personal exposure monitoring
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Source detection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis