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Epidemiology of respiratory disease in fire fighters.

Peters JM
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, Terminal Progress Report 1978 Apr; :1-9
A NIOSH sponsored study on the epidemiology of respiratory disease among firefighters is presented. Aims of the study were: 1) to determine incidence of acute and chronic respiratory disease among firefighters (related to occupational exposure); 2) to determine the effects of smoke and fire gas exposure on ventilatory capacity in firefighters; 3) to characterize exposures to smoke and fire gas; 4) to determine the relationship between tobacco smoking and smoke and fire gas exposure; and 5) to evaluate the importance of demographic variables in the pathogenesis of respiratory disease. A cross- sectional study was conducted using 1768 Boston firefighters. Data on exposures, respiratory function and respiratory symptoms were obtained. It was found that experienced firefighters had a higher rate of chronic nonspecific respiratory disease than inexperienced firefighters of the same age. Indicators of occupational exposure were associated with higher disease rates, as was smoking. Pulmonary function data indicated a relationship between lower ventilatory capacity and occupational exposure and cigarette smoking. Differences in pulmonary function were noted between Irish and Italian firefighters. Follow-up studies at 1, 3, and 5 years indicated that occupational exposure strongly contributes to chronic impairment of pulmonary function in firefighters, and that selection factors within the fire department appear important in protecting firefighters from continued loss of ventilatory capacity. In a study of 39 firefighters on the acute respiratory effects of firefighting, smoke exposure was found to result in an average decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 second of 0.05 liters. The decrement was related to severity of smoke exposure and measured concentration of particles in the smoke. Mortality data are taken to indicate that survival is strongly influenced by selection variables, ethnic derivation, and sociocultural attributes of membership.
NIOSH-Grant; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Firemen; Lung; Pulmonary-function; Combustion-products; Acute-exposure; Occupational-health
Physiology Harvard Sch of Public Health 665 Huntington Avenue Boston, Mass 02115
Publication Date
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Final Grant Report
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NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, Terminal Progress Report
Performing Organization
Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: January 28, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division