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Exposures and cross-shift lung function declines in wildland firefighters.

Authors
Gaughan-DM; Piacitelli-CA; Chen-BT; Law-BF; Virji-MA; Edwards-NT; Enright-PL; Schwegler-Berry-DE; Leonard-SS; Wagner-GR; Kobzik-L; Kales-SN; Hughes-MD; Christiani-DC; Siegel-PD; Cox-Ganser-JM; Hoover-MD
Source
J Occup Environ Hyg 2014 Sep; 11(9):591-603
NIOSHTIC No.
20044742
Abstract
Respiratory problems are common among wildland firefighters. However, there are few studies directly linking occupational exposures to respiratory effects in this population. Our objective was to characterize wildland fire fighting occupational exposures and assess their associations with crossshift changes in lung function. We studied 17 members of the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew with environmental sampling and pulmonary function testing during a large wildfire. We characterized particles by examining size distribution and mass concentration, and conducting elemental and morphological analyses. We examined associations between crossshift lung function change and various analytes, including levoglucosan, an indicator of wood smoke from burning biomass. The levoglucosan component of the wildfire aerosol showed a predominantly bimodal size distribution: a coarse particle mode with a mass median aerodynamic diameter about 12 um and a fine particle mode with a mass median aerodynamic diameter<0.5 um. Levoglucosan was found mainly in the respirable fraction and its concentration was higher for fire line construction operations than for mop-up operations. Larger cross-shift declines in forced expiratory volume in one second were associated with exposure to higher concentrations of respirable levoglucosan (p < 0.05). Paired analyses of real-time personal air sampling measurements indicated that higher carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations were correlated with higher particulate concentrations when examined by mean values, but not by individual data points. However, low CO concentrations did not provide reliable assurance of concomitantly low particulate concentrations. We conclude that inhalation of fine smoke particles is associated with acute lung function decline in some wildland firefighters. Based on short-term findings, it appears important to address possible long-term respiratory health issues for wildland firefighters. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for the following free supplemental resources: a file containing additional information on historical studies of wildland fire exposures, a file containing the daily-exposure-severity questionnaire completed by wildland firefighter participants at the end of each day, and a file containing additional details of the investigation of correlations between carbon monoxide concentrations and other measured exposure factors in the current study.]
Keywords
Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Humans; Men; Women; Respiration; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Lung-function; Lung; Lung-disorders; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Sampling; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Analytical-processes; Wood; Smoke-inhalation; Aerosols; Author Keywords: occupational lung disease; exposure assessment; levoglucosan
Contact
Jean Cox-Ganser, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, MS 2800, Morgantown, WV 26505
CODEN
JOEHA2
CAS No.
630-08-0
Publication Date
20140901
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Jcoxganser@cdc.gov
Fiscal Year
2014
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
M072014
Issue of Publication
9
ISSN
1545-9624
NIOSH Division
DRDS; HELD
Priority Area
Construction; Manufacturing
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
State
NY; WV; MA; AZ
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