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This study examined occupational exposures of Ottawa firefighters to combustion by-products and selected metals. We measured exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), antimony, cadmium, and lead using (1) personal air samplers worn by firefighters during emergency fire suppression; (2) wipe samples from skin, personal clothing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) collected before and after emergency firefighting (n = 29); and (3) air samples collected in three fire stations vehicle bays, truck cabs, and one administration office. We assessed OFS PPE decontamination procedures using wipe samples collected before and after laundering (n = 12). Air concentrations exceeded occupational exposure limits at two fire events for lead and nine for PAHs. After fire suppression, PAH concentrations were significantly higher on skin and PPE (p < 0.001), skin, clothing, and PPE for antimony (p < 0.001, 0.01, and 0.05, respectively), and skin and PPE for lead (p < 0.001). Air concentrations of PAHs and antimony were significantly higher in vehicle bays compared to the office (p < 0.05), but significantly lower compared to fire truck cabs (p < 0.05). Washing PPE was effective in removing, on average, 61% of PAHs, 55% of antimony, 97% of lead, and 90% of cadmium. These results indicate that firefighters are significantly exposed, via multiple routes, to combustion by-products during on-shift fire suppression.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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