Controlling Diesel Exhaust Exposure Inside Firehouses

Issue 2 and Volume 164.

BY TOMMY N. BALDWIN, THOMAS R. HALES, AND MAUREEN T. NIEMEIER Diesel exhaust in firehouses has been and continues to be a problem for many firefighters. A diesel-powered apparatus generates exhaust whenever it leaves or returns to a station. If not properly captured, this exhaust will enter not only the apparatus bay but also the firefighters’ living quarters. As a result, firefighters can be exposed to diesel exhaust for a significant portion of their shifts. Scientific evidence suggests an association between lung cancer and occupational exposure to diesel exhaust emissions. Safety and health professionals at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have evaluated several fire stations for diesel exhaust through its Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) program (see box at right). Below, we address the health effects of diesel exhaust, the amount of diesel exhaust typically found in fire stations, and the controls and work practices that can…

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