Firefighting

A Cohort Mortality Study of Philadelphia Firefighters

Issue 2 and Volume 153.

BY DALSU BARIS, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md.; THOMAS J. GARRITY, Local No. 22 City Firefighters Union, International Association of Fire Fighters, Philadelphia, Pa.; JOEL LEON TELLES, Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP, Philadelphia; ELLEN F. HEINEMAN, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics; and SHEILA HOAR ZAHM, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. Firefighters are exposed under uncontrolled conditions to a wide variety of toxic chemicals including known and suspected carcinogens, such as benzene and formaldehyde in wood smoke, polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soots and tars, arsenic in wood preservatives, asbestos in building insulation, diesel engine exhaust, and dioxins.1-5 The complexity of the firefighters’ exposures increased with the widespread introduction of synthetic building materials in the late 1950s. The combustion of the common plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), for example, has been estimated to produce dozens of different chemicals, including cyanide.6 Previous studies of…

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