Fire fighting trainers' exposure to carcinogenic agents in smoke diving simulators.

Research paper by Juha J Laitinen, Mauri M Mäkelä, Jouni J Mikkola, Ismo I Huttu

Indexed on: 07 Jul '09Published on: 07 Jul '09Published in: Toxicology Letters


It is well known that fire fighters are potentially exposed to various carcinogenic agents at a fire scene. An almost unheeded issue, however, is fire fighters' exposure to carcinogenic agents in smoke diving simulators. Biomonitoring (urinary muconic acid, 1-naphthol and 1-pyrenol), dermal (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and occupational hygiene measurements (cyanides, hydrogen cyanide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde) were used to determine how the burning material, the type of simulator and protective clothing used affect fire fighting trainers' exposure. The highest excretion of 1-pyrenol (sampled 6h after end of exposure, in average 4.3-9.2nmol/L) and emissions of benzene (1.0-2.5mg/m(3)) and hydrogen cyanide (0.2-0.9mg/m(3)) were measured during the burning of conifer plywood and chipboard, and the lowest when pure pine and spruce wood (1.5nmol/L, 0.6mg/m(3), and 0.05mg/m(3)) was burned. However the safest burning material seemed to be propane (1.0nmol/L, 0.2mg/m(3), and not measured). The type of simulator used affected trainers' exposure very clearly. The highest dermal whole body exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were measured in the fire house simulator (in average 1200ng/cm(2)). Clearly lower exposure levels were measured in container training sessions (760ng/cm(2)), where the average dermal exposure level was 35% lower than in the fire house. The exposure levels (30ng/cm(2)) in the gas simulator in turn, were only 4% of the levels in container training sessions. The amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons decreased by 80% on trainers' hands when they used under gloves (in average 8.7ng/cm(2)) compared to those (48.4ng/cm(2)) who did not. There was not difference in protection efficiency against polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons between tested fire suits (Brage and Bristol).