Ultrafine Particles Could Increase Coronary Risk in Firefighters

Exposure to high levels of ultrafine particles—invisible particles that can reach the smallest air passages in the lungs—may be an important contributor to the risk of coronary heart disease in firefighters, reports a study in the August Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

More consistent use of respiratory protective equipment—especially during the “overhaul” stage of fire suppression—could reduce firefighters’ exposure to ultrafine particles, and possibly lower coronary risk.

Led by Dr. C. Stuart Baxter of the University of Cincinnati, the researchers measured levels of different sizes of respirable (breathable) particles during test fires, conducted under experimental conditions. In all types of fires, ultrafine particles—measuring less than 0.1 microns—accounted for more than 70 percent of all particles.

Levels of ultrafine particles were high throughout all stages of fire suppression—not only the “knockdown” phase, when firefighters work to extinguish the fire or limit its growth, but also during the “overhaul” phase, when the goal is to prevent the fire from reigniting. Exposure may be especially high during the overhaul phase, when firefighters often remove their respiratory protective equipment.

Coronary events are a major health issue in firefighters, causing nearly half of all deaths on duty. Exposure to ultrafine particles could contribute to coronary disease in firefighters—not only as a long-term health risk, but also as a cause of coronary events while responding to fires.

To reduce this exposure, Baxter and co-authors said that firefighters should be encouraged to use respiratory protective equipment throughout all phases of fire suppression. They also endorse previous recommendations for medical screening to identify and manage coronary risk factors in firefighters. The authors also emphasize that more research is needed to clarify the link between exposure to ultrafine particles and coronary risk.

Product Showcase

  • Safety Knives

    The Safety Knife Company has developed a quality range of safety knives for all industries. Designed so that fingers cannot get to the blades, these knives will safely cut through cardboard, tape, strapping, shrink or plastic wrap or a variety of other packing materials. Because these knives have no exposed blades and only cut cardboard deep, they will not only protect employees against lacerations but they will also save product. The Metal Detectable versions have revolutionary metal detectable polypropylene knife bodies specifically for the food and pharmaceutical industries. This material can be detected and rejected by typical detection machines and is X-ray visible. 3

  • HAZ LO HEADLAMPS

    With alkaline or rechargeable options, these safety rated, Class 1, Div. 1 Headlamps provide long runtime with both spot and flood options in the same light. Work safely and avoid trip hazards with flexible hands-free lighting from Streamlight. 3

  • Glove Guard® Clip

    Safety should never be compromised, especially when it comes to proper glove usage. The Glove Guard® clip enhances safety by encouraging employees to keep their gloves with them at all times. This reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the job. By ensuring everyone has their gloves readily available, we help promote a culture of safety and efficiency. The Glove Guard® clip is designed to withstand the toughest work environments. Constructed from robust materials made in the USA, it can endure extreme conditions, including harsh weather, and rigorous activities. 3

Featured

Webinars