Houston, Texas, April 22nd
Last summer, a warehouse fire in Austin, Texas made the national news when over 100 firefighters battling the fire were potentially exposed to asbestos. The incident brought to light just one of the many occupational exposure risks firefighters could encounter responding to an emergency.
In 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published the results of a large study of firefighters from Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia that found the population of firefighters in the study had a rate of mesothelioma two times greater than the rate in the U.S. population as a whole. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer are a few of the diseases exposure to asbestos fibers can cause.
NIOSH also reports firefighters can be exposed to hundreds of different chemicals in the form of gases, vapors, and particulates, and that some of these chemical substances are known or suspected to cause cancer. A number of these hazardous substances are byproducts of combustion or burning, such as benzene and formaldehyde. Others come from the materials burning or in the fire debris, such as asbestos or lead found in older structures.
“Across the United States there are over 1.1 million firefighters serving as active career, volunteer or paid per call firefighters,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Even for those firefighters wearing protective clothing, known as turnout gear, if it is not adequately cleaned or stored after a fire response or training event, chemicals on the gear or equipment can contaminate vehicles and the fire station. Reusing dirty turnout gear or respiratory protection can also result in exposure to hazardous substances. This can occur by skin contact with contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) or by breathing in or ingesting particles from contaminated PPE.”
Fire departments in the United States and Canada can turn to the material, environmental, and industrial hygiene testing experts at EMSL Analytical for answers to concerns over exposure risks. Their laboratories offer testing services for asbestos, lead, smoke, residues, gases, particulate matter, chemicals, and even microbial hazards. They also provide sampling supplies, easy-to-use test kits, air monitoring instruments, and PPE, including respirators and respirator fit testing supplies. EMSL has even sponsored an educational video about firefighters and occupational exposure risks to dermal and respirable hazards that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/_5YE-L0Z7xc
To learn more about industrial hygiene, material, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com. For access to asbestos, lead or other test kits, visit www.EMSLTestKits.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products, and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP, and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.