A health hazard evaluation of antimony exposure in fire fighters

J Occup Environ Med. 2010 Jan;52(1):81-4. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181c7514a.


Objectives: Some firefighter station uniforms contain the flame-retardant, antimony trioxide. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigated a possible outbreak of antimony toxicity wherein 30 firefighters reported elevated antimony levels on hair analyses.

Methods: We surveyed and collected urine samples from firefighters not wearing (Fire Department A) and wearing (Fire Department B) antimony-containing pants. Urine antimony concentrations were measured and adjusted for creatinine.

Results: All 20 participating firefighters from Fire Department A and 41 (97.6%) of 42 participating firefighters from Fire Department B had urine antimony concentrations below or within the national reference range. No differences in urine antimony levels between departments were detected.

Conclusions: Wearing antimony-containing uniforms does not pose a risk for antimony toxicity. This investigation highlights the importance of using validated methods for toxicity determination and of accurate, timely risk communication.

MeSH terms

  • Antimony / urine*
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Flame Retardants / adverse effects
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Protective Clothing / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States


  • Flame Retardants
  • Antimony