Wildfire smoke inhalation puts firefighters at risk

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A recent study co-authored by CUNY SPH Professor Ilias Kavouras examined the cardiovascular and pulmonary effects of smoke inhalation in firefighters. The study revealed that firefighters are inhaling large quantities of tiny particles containing carcinogenic chemicals while they combat destructive and dangerous wildfires. These firefighters are often battling wildfires over long periods of time and with little, if any, personal protective equipment. The study showed that the hazardous mixtures they were inhaling are known to be associated with cancer and cardiovascular disease, which are also predominant causes of death among firefighters.

The findings were published in the journal Exposure and Health.

Kavouras notes that the results of this study have broader implications as intense wildfires occur closer and closer to communities and thus inhalation of these pollutants become a hazard to not only firefighters, but also nearby populations. While wildfires have been a common occurrence in California, it is only in recent years that eastern states, including the Appalachian region and the Great Plains, have experienced destructive wildfire due to prolonged droughts. "The predicted increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires due to will only exacerbate the risk," said Kavouras.

More information: Jordan Nelson et al. Physicochemical Characterization of Personal Exposures to Smoke Aerosol and PAHs of Wildland Firefighters in Prescribed Fires, Exposure and Health (2020). DOI: 10.1007/s12403-020-00366-5

Citation: Wildfire smoke inhalation puts firefighters at risk (2020, June 17) retrieved 16 June 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-wildfire-inhalation-firefighters.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

What's in the smoke given off by the Australian wildfires?


Feedback to editors