Mapping carcinogen exposure across urban fire incident response arenas using passive silicone-based samplers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carcinogens are emitted in significant quantities at fire scenes and are a major contributor in the increased cancer risk observed in firefighters when compared to the general population. A knowledge gap exists in the current understanding of the distribution of these toxic compounds within a localized fire incident response arena. Here, we employ stationary silicone-based passive samplers at controlled live fire trainings to evaluate the deposition behavior of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) emitted by fires. Our findings indicate significantly greater total PAH exposure in fires fueled by biomass and wood compared to fires burning cleaner fuels, such as propane. A 22% increase in total PAH deposition and a 68% increase in high molecular weight PAH deposition was recorded for biomass fueled fires compared to propane fueled fires. Furthermore, we observe that heavier molecular weight PAHs exhibit a pronounced deposition front within a certain radius of the hot zone, whereas low molecular weight PAHs are more uniformly distributed throughout the area. These findings highlight that the warm zones and cold zones of fire situations yield elevated levels of carcinogen exposure to first responders within them. We anticipate that these findings will help inform decisions made by emergency personnel when evaluating risk for the hot zone, warm zone, and cold zone of urban fires helping ease the carcinogenic risk experienced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112929
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - Dec 25 2021


  • Carcinogens
  • Deposition
  • Exposure
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Risk assessment
  • Toxin migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping carcinogen exposure across urban fire incident response arenas using passive silicone-based samplers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this