NIOSH HHE Evaluated Diesel Exhaust Exposure at Fire Stations

The evaluation was in response to a concern from firefighters who were concerned that diesel exhaust from firefighting apparatus could enter the living and sleeping areas of their fire stations.

AIHA noted that NIOSH's Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program responded in 2016 to concern from firefighters about potential exposures to diesel exhaust from three urban fire stations. The firefighters were employees of the same city fire department and were concerned about exhaust possibly entering the living and sleeping areas of the fire station.

NIOSH personnel visited all three stations in order to collect samples, as well as evaluate airflow patterns.

Fortunately, NIOSH found low levels of diesel exhaust, below the recommended limits. Regardless, the authors of the report recommended efforts to further reduce exposures due to the potential health risks associated with exposures to diesel exhaust.

"We found no evidence that diesel exhaust was flowing into the living and sleeping quarters from the apparatus bay in the three fire stations we evaluated. With the exception of one area in Station 17," they reported, "air flowed from the living and sleeping quarters into the apparatus bay. Although below recommended limits, diesel exhaust concentrations in Station 10's apparatus bay were higher than those in Stations 16 and 17, most likely due to Station 10's back-in only design. Although exposures were low in all the stations, efforts to further reduce exposures are appropriate because of the potential health risks from exposures to diesel exhaust."

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