TitleExploring Personal Chemical Exposures of Structural Firefighters Using Silicone Dog-tags as Passive Samplers
Publication TypePlatform/Presentation
AuthorsBonner EM, Poutasse CM, Poston WSCarlos, Jahnke SA, Haddock CK, Tidwell LG, Hoffman PD, Anderson KA
Conference/Meeting/VenueSETAC North America 42nd Annual Meeting
Date Published11/2021

Structural firefighters are exposed to many potentially hazardous chemicals while on the job. In a burning building, chemicals in furniture, building materials, and home goods can be volatilized in the high heat, and pyrogenic chemicals can be formed. Adverse health outcomes observed in firefighters, such as increased incidence of various cancers and cardiovascular disease, raise concerns about these occupational exposures. This study seeks to compare chemical exposures of firefighters when on- and off-duty using silicone dog-tags worn around the neck, as passive samplers. There were 57 firefighter participants selected from two-stations in the Kansas City Metropolitan area; on average, one received fewer than two calls per month (low call volume), and the other received more than 12 calls per month (high call volume). Each firefighter wore two separate dog-tags while on- and off-duty for a total of 30 24-hour shifts. The firefighters also filled out questionnaires, indicating the number of fire attacks they participated in while wearing the tags, as well as other demographic and lifestyle information that might inform exposures. The dog-tags were extracted and analyzed using GC-MS. This presentation will focus on results for two chemical classes, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Preliminary data show that 16 different firefighters were exposed to PCBs, 12 of which were from the high call volume station. Additionally, 12 different PCB congeners were detected. It is hypothesized that chemical concentrations in paired on-duty versus off-duty tags will be higher, and that the high versus low call volume station will have greater chemical concentrations. Other questions about concentration correlation to questionnaire data, PCB sources, and potential adverse health outcomes linked to the observed exposures will also be explored. Silicone passive samplers are a useful tool in gathering data on chemical exposures of firefighters because they can mimic dermal absorption of the bioavailable phase, a particularly concerning route of exposure for firefighters. They are also easy to use and maintain, allowing for this month-long exposure study. This application of passive sampling will help us better characterize the occupational exposures of firefighters when they are on- and off-duty, and how that is impacted by station call-volume.