By Mary Jane Dittmar
- During fire suppression, followed by overhaul, U.S. firefighter deaths from acute cardiovascular events occur at a rate of 10 to 100 times higher than during nonemergency duties. The overhaul phase is the most critical when considering firefighter particle exposure, however, because respiratory protection is commonly not worn during this period.
- Risk factors for cardiac heart disease in firefighters may be personal, work related, or both. Personal risk factors include hypertension, obesity, increased serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and smoking.
- Potential work-related risk factors include excessive noise levels; physical, heat, and psychological stress; dehydration; extended work shifts; and exposure to chemical asphyxiants, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and hydrogen sulfide. Any of these factors could precipitate an acute cardiovascular event, particularly in individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease.
- An additional occupational cardiovascular risk factor receiving increasing attention is exposure to respirable particles, including those in the ultrafine range (diameters <0.1 µm); indications are that they may be capable of inducing remote cardiovascular events after respiratory deposition by several mechanisms.
- Independent of study scenarios, ultrafine particles were the most prevalent type of particulate matter generated. Ultrafine particles are not observable to the human eye, which may create a false sense of safety that leads firefighters to remove their SCBA protective equipment during overhaul to ease the physical burden and potential heat stress associated with use of personal protective equipment.
Helping Yourself. There is a need for additional research to determine whether exposure to ultrafine particles is a coronary event risk factor in firefighters. As a precautionary principle in the meantime, wear respiratory protection during overhaul to decrease the potential for exposure to ultrafine particulates. For additional information on the study, e-mail email@example.com.
Photo by Sam Mugraby, Photos8.com
Allan Spreen, MD, NorthStar Nutritionals’ Guide to Good Health, Oct. 7, 2020.
If your medical provider has prescribed any of the above drugs for you, consult with him about this matter. Do not stop the medication on your own.
Mary Jane Dittmar is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.