Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultrafine air particles may increase firefighters' risk for heart disease

Date:
September 29, 2010
Source:
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Summary:
Firefighters are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of ultrafine particulates at the time they are least likely to wear protective breathing equipment. Because of this, researchers believe firefighters may face an increased risk for heart disease from exposures during the fire suppression process.

Cincinnati firefighters.
Credit: University of Cincinnati

Firefighters are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of ultrafine particulates at the time they are least likely to wear protective breathing equipment. Because of this, researchers believe firefighters may face an increased risk for heart disease from exposures during the fire suppression process.

Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American firefighters, with many of these incidents taking place during or just after a firefighting incident. Researchers say exposure to these harmful ultrafine air particulates could predispose firefighters to heart disease -- particularly in those at a less-than-optimal level of physical fitness or personal health.

In a study conducted collaboratively by the University of Cincinnati (UC), Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and the Chicago Fire Department, researchers have found that more than 70 percent of particulates released during fires are "ultrafine," invisible to the naked eye but able to be inhaled into the deepest compartments of the lung.

These findings were reported in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. This study was the first to characterize the size and distribution of particulates, including those in the ultrafine range, during domestic fires.

For this study, researchers conducted a series of simulated house and automobile fires to measure the amount and specific characteristics of breathable particulates released during combustion and, consequently, what firefighters are exposed to during the course of their typical work environment.

Fire suppression takes place in two phases. In the first, known as "knockdown," firefighters squelch the flames with water to avoid fire spread. Workers are required to wear protective breathing equipment during this time to avoid exposure to smoke and toxic gases produced from the process. During "overhaul," the second phase, firefighters enter the structure and work to prevent re-ignition of partially burned material.

Researchers found that levels of ultrafine particulates were highest during overhaul, both in indoor and outdoor structure fires as well as automobile fires.

"Firefighters simply can't avoid inhaling these ultrafine particles when they are not wearing their protective breathing apparatus and, unfortunately, they routinely remove it during overhaul," explains Stuart Baxter, PhD, a collaborator in the study and UC professor of environmental health.

"Standard issue firefighting equipment weighs about 60 pounds, and under the exertion of firefighting the standard air tank only lasts about 20 minutes, so as soon as they determine the situation is safe -- typically during overhaul -- firefighters shed the protective gear," he adds. "Much of this ultrafine exposure could be avoided through equipment improvements and more rigid safety protocols for fire suppression -- including additional workers who could be rotated in to reduce the physical and emotional burden of the job."

Collaborators in the study include Clara Sue Ross, MD, JD, Thomas Fabian, PhD, Jacob Borgerson, Jamila Shawon, Pravinray Gandhi, PhD, James Dalton and James Lockey, MD. Funding for the study came from the Department of Homeland Security and AFG Fire Prevention and Safety Grants Program. Funders had no involvement in study design, data collection/analysis, writing of the paper or decision to seek publication.

Lockey has served as a paid witness, independent medical examiner or both in workers' compensation and disability cases, including cases involving firefighters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Stuart Baxter, Clara Sue Ross, Thomas Fabian, Jacob L. Borgerson, Jamila Shawon, Pravinray D. Gandhi, James M. Dalton, James E. Lockey. Ultrafine Particle Exposure During Fire Suppression—Is It an Important Contributory Factor for Coronary Heart Disease in Firefighters? Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2010; 52 (8): 791 DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181ed2c6e

Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. "Ultrafine air particles may increase firefighters' risk for heart disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928111136.htm>.
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. (2010, September 29). Ultrafine air particles may increase firefighters' risk for heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928111136.htm
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. "Ultrafine air particles may increase firefighters' risk for heart disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928111136.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins