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Pseudo-outbreak of antimony toxicity in firefighters --- Florida, 2009.
Kawamoto M; Durgam S; Eisenberg J; Caldwell K; de Perio M
MMWR 2009 Nov; 58(46):1300-1302
Antimony oxides, in combination with halogens, have been used as flame retardants in textiles since the 1960s. Uniforms made from fabric containing antimony are common among the estimated 1.1 million firefighters in the United States. In October 2008, CDC received a report from the fire chief of a fire department in Florida (fire department A) regarding an outbreak of antimony toxicity among 30 firefighters who had elevated antimony levels detected in hair samples. This report summarizes the ensuing health hazard evaluation conducted by CDC to determine the source of antimony exposure. In February 2009, CDC administered questionnaires to and collected urine samples from two groups of firefighters: 20 firefighters from fire department A who did not wear pants made from antimony-containing fabric, and 42 firefighters from fire department B (also located in Florida) who did. All 20 firefighters from fire department A and 41 (98%) from fire department B had urine antimony concentrations below or within the laboratory reference range. CDC concluded that wearing pants made from antimony-containing fabric was not associated with elevated levels of urinary antimony. Only validated methods (e.g., urine testing) should be used for the determination of antimony toxicity. Accurate and timely risk communication during suspected workplace exposures should underscore the importance of using validated tests, thereby refuting an unproven hypothesis, allaying unsubstantiated concerns, and enhancing public trust.
Exposure-assessment; Urinalysis; Region-4; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting-equipment; Fire-protection-equipment; Emergency-responders; Flame-retardants; Heavy-metals
Journal Article; Trade
Issue of Publication
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
OH; FL; GA
Page last reviewed: September 4, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division