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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-91-152-2140, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southern California.

Letts D; Fidler AT; Deitchman S; Reh CM
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 91-152-2140, 1991 Sep; :1-24
In response to a request from the National Park Service, an evaluation was made of the health effects of forest fire smoke exposure among wild land fire fighters from the National Park Service and Forest Service (SIC-0851) in Southern California. A survey was performed to determine whether these workers incurred cross season changes in lung function and respiratory symptoms during the 1990 fire season. An estimated 80,000 wild land fire fighters fight approximately 70,000 forest fires that burn 2 million acres of forested land each year. In June of 1990 spirometry was performed and a questionnaire administered to 105 preseason participants to establish a preseason baseline. Post season data were collected during September of the same year on 78 of these individuals. Overall the mean cross season changes for lung function for the 78 participants were -0.5% in 1 second forced expiratory volume (FVC1), 0.2% in forced vital capacity (FVC), -2.3% in the mean forced expiratory flow during the middle half of the FVC (FEF25-75), and -0.5% in the ratio of FEV1 to FVC. Dose related decreases in FEF25-75 and FEV1/FVC were observed with higher exposures. No significant increase in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms was noted cross seasonally and those which did occur were not associated with exposure. The authors conclude that there was limited evidence that forest fire fighting results in cross season changes in lung function. They recommend that a respiratory surveillance program be performed to examine the long term effects of forest fire fighting on lung function.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-91-152-2140; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-9; Forestry-workers; Firemen; Combustion-products; Airborne-particles; Lung-function; Author Keywords: Forestry Services; forest fire fighting; lung function tests; spirometry; respiratory symptoms
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division