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Floodwater exposure and the related health symptoms among firefighters in New Orleans, Louisiana 2005.
Tak-S; Bernard-BP; Driscoll-RJ; Dowell-CH
Am J Ind Med 2007 May; 50(5):377-382
Background: Concerns over increased reports of physical health symptoms thought to be related to floodwater exposure among New Orleans firefighters prompted a health hazard evaluation of firefighters following Hurricane Katrina. Methods: A questionnaire assessing health symptoms possibly related to the response to Hurricane Katrina was administered to all New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) personnel within 3 months of the disaster. Descriptive statistics were compiled and prevalence ratios (PR) were estimated for covariates using generalized linear models with Log link and Poisson distribution. Results: Of the 525 firefighters who completed the questionnaire (77% participation), 201 (38%) reported one or more new-onset respiratory symptoms, such as sinus congestion (145 [28%]), throat irritation (92 [17%]), and cough (124 [24%]). Skin rash was reported by 258 (49%) of respondents, 414 (79%) reported skin contact with floodwater, and 165 (32%) reported contact with floodwater on multiple days. In multivariate analyses adjusting for age, gender, and smoking, firefighters who had floodwater contact with skin and either nose/mouth or eyes (224, 44%) had an increased rate of new-onset upper respiratory symptoms (PR = 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1, 3.1), and skin rash (PR = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.4, 3.2) compared to those not exposed to the floodwater. Conclusions: Response workers involved with floodwater should minimize direct skin and mucosal contact with floodwater if possible through the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, such as goggles, safety glasses with side shields, or full-face shields.
Questionnaires; Statistical-analysis; Epidemiology; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Skin-exposure; Protective-clothing; Protective-equipment; Skin-protection; Eye-protective-equipment; Eye-protection; Eye-shields; Dermatitis
SangWoo Tak, Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer, Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-10, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division