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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2008-0241-3113, evaluation of chemical and particle exposures during vehicle fire suppression training, Miami Township Fire and Rescue, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Fent KW; Evans DE; Couch J
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2008-0241-3113, 2010 Jul; :1-46
In July 2008, NIOSH received a health hazard evaluation request from management at the Miami Township Fire and Rescue in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The request concerned potential inhalation exposures during vehicle fire suppression training. We conducted our first evaluation on September 25, 2008, to identify the main chemical constituents of engine and cabin fires during a training exercise involving one vehicle (two sampling events). We found high levels of various hazardous chemicals that helped us determine what to sample for on the second evaluation. During our second evaluation on July 14, 2009, we measured fire fighters' personal exposures to chemicals and particles during the engine and cabin fires for three vehicles (six sampling events). We conducted PBZ air sampling for aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, CO, and isocyanates. In addition, we sampled for particles and other compounds near the fire fighters suppressing fires. In both evaluations, most of the PBZ concentrations we measured were below STELs. However, 2 of 15 PBZ concentrations of formaldehyde exceeded the NIOSH ceiling limit of 0.12 mg/m3. Although all the PBZ concentrations of isocyanates were below the STEL of 44 microg/m3, using statistics, we calculated a 27% probability of overexposure to isocyanates during cabin fire suppression. Most real-time CO measurements were below the NIOSH ceiling limit of 200 ppm; however, one measurement (196 ppm) taken in the PBZ of the fire fighter performing backup was just below this ceiling limit. We measured increased particle number and mass concentrations during the vehicle fire knockdown, which persisted through the overhaul phase of the fire response. Our findings indicate a potential for acute overexposure to formaldehyde, CO, and isocyanates during vehicle fire suppression. A potential for fine particle exposure can occur at any point during fire suppression operations. The intensity and duration of both the chemical and particle exposures depends on the wind speed and direction. Therefore, we recommend that fire fighters wear SCBAs until completing overhaul. We also recommend that fire fighters stand away from any diesel exhaust and park fire apparatus upwind of the fires. In addition, the motor pump operator should remain upwind of the diesel exhaust emissions from the fire apparatus because they could contain harmful substances.
Region 5; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Training; Particulates; Airborne-particles; Isocyanates; Formaldehydes; Aldehydes; Exhaust-gases; Diesel-emissions; Diesel-exhausts; Respirators; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Author Keywords: Fire Protection; fire suppression; vehicle fire; car fire; fire fighter exposures; particles; isocyanates; formaldehyde
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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NIOSH Division
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Services; Manufacturing
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division