Evaluation of Interventions to Reduce Firefighter Exposures

J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Apr;62(4):279-288. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001815.


Objective: Evaluate the effectiveness of firefighter exposure reduction interventions.

Methods: Fireground interventions included use of self-contained breathing apparatus by engineers, entry team wash down, contaminated equipment isolation, and personnel showering and washing of gear upon return to station. Urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites (PAH-OHs) were measured after structural fire responses before and after intervention implementation. Separately, infrared sauna use following live-fire training was compared to standard postfire care in a randomized trial.

Results: The fireground interventions significantly reduced mean total urinary postfire PAH-OHs in engineers (-40.4%, 95%CI -63.9%, -2.3%) and firefighters (-36.2%, 95%CI -56.7%, -6.0%) but not captains (-11.3% 95%CI -39.4%, 29.9%). Sauna treatment non-significantly reduced total mean PAH-OHs by -43.5% (95%CI -68.8%, 2.2%).

Conclusions: The selected fireground interventions reduced urinary PAH-OHs in engineers and firefighters. Further evaluation of infrared sauna treatment is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Firefighters*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / urine
  • Skin


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons