Fire fighters not only face severe physical and psychological demands, work with long
hour shift, but also risks of job-related health consequences. They are potentially exposed to
a large number of toxic substances as well as heat and noise during fire suppression. The
inhalation of toxic gases and particles results in irritation of the respiratory tract, and
increases in respiratory symptoms and decreases in lung function. In addition, exposure to
ultrafine particles during fire suppression is suggested a potential contributing factor for
CHD in firefighters. Furthermore, exposure to carcinogens may increase the risk of cancer. It
is nearly impossible in a real fire situation to ascretain what specific combustion products or
what amounts of such products are generated during the fire and which agents might be
responsible for hazards. Therefore, monitoring internal dose for a specific agent and the
health effects can be alternative methods for control of occupational hazards. The specific
aims of this proposed study were following 1) to evaluate the exposure to a mixture of
pollutants among firefighters in northern Taiwan by measuring the pyrene metabolite urinary
1-hydroxypyrene 2) to assess the relation between exposure to Polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) and indicators of oxidative DNA damage (urinary 8-OHdG) among
fire fighters 3) to assess the relation between exposure to Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
(PAHs) and indicators of antioxidant biomarkers -superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione
peroxidase-1 (GPX-1), and myeloperoxidase (MPO) among fire fighters. 4) to determine
association between lung function and exposure to fire work. 5) to explore the correlation
between sleep quality status and its associated factors (including job strain, fatigue, personal
characteristic factors as well as environmental factors).
We carried out a cross-sectional study. We chose 203 fire fighters from the Mumicipal Fire
Department as exposed group. The reference group was consisted of 103 office workers. We
collected the baseline data of both exposed and control groups, including personal
information, disease history, working history, respiratory and centrol nervous symptoms,
sleeping quality, working stress by means of different questionnaires. We also collect the
urine, blood, and saliva samples at the physical examinations for determining the levels of
related biomarkers. Urine samples were analyzed for
1-hydroxypyrene(1-OHP),8-hydroxydeoxyquanosine (8-OHdG),and cotinine. Blood samples
were analyzed for superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase-1 (GPX-1), and
myeloperoxidase(MPO). Saliva samples were analyzed for cortisol.
The multivariate analysis indicated particulated fire fighting in the previous 24 hours
(β=0.137, 95%CI: 0.008 – 0.266), p<0.05), current smoking habit (β=0.171, 95%CI: 0.050 –
0.292, p<0.01) and barbecau food consumption (β=0.090, 95%CI: -0.007 – 0.186, p=0.07)
were associated with urinary 1-OHP levels. In linear regression adjusting for confounding, a
change in log(8-OHdG) was statistically significantly related to a unit change in
log(1-OHPG) (β=0.100, 95%CI: 0.017 – 0.183, p<0.05). There was no association between
antioxidant (SOD, GPX-1, and MPO) and urinary 8-OHdG. In the respect of lung function
measures (FEV1.0% predictive value, FEV1.0 predictive value), no statistical difference iwas
found between exposed and reference groups after adjusting for confounding factors. FVC
was associated with working years (β= -0.026, 95% CI -0.049 - -0.004, p<0.05). While
FEV1.0/FVC was associated with smoking habit (β= -4.06, 95% CI -7.72 - -0.40, p<0.05).
Regarding to the working shift, for those fire fighters with one day working and one day
off shift and two days working and one day off shift had risk 4.7 (95% CI 3.02 to 21.48) and
8.1 (95% CI 0.7 to 1.0) times of associated with poor sleep guality.
There were significant sleep quality differences between exposed and reference group.
The multivariate analysis indicated that age (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.011 to 1.079), exposed
group (OR 3.86, 95% CI 1.72 to 8.69), high strain (vs. low strain) (OR 1.90, 95% CI 0.94 to
3.82) may be the influencing factors of poor sleep quality.
Some Fire Bureaus did not have the budget of health examination for firefighters under 40
years old. We suggest that these Fire Bureaus or National Fire Agency, Ministry of the
Interior should attempt to get the budget of health examination for firefighters under 40 years
old to prevent occupational diseases and maintain the health for firefighters.
One Division Director in the Fire Bureau mentioned that his X-ray health check-up was
abnormal. The cause was that he took off his respiratory protector when he reached the
higher ranking officers’ phone calls, and then breathed the fire smoke in the firefighting
process. Therefore, we suggest the fire Department should enforce the respiratory protectors
and communication facilities.
Keywords: firfighters, biomonitoring, lung function, epidemiological study, oxidative
damage, sleeping quality, working stress, respiratory protectors