A new Oregon State University study suggests that firefighters are more likely to be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals while on duty compared to off duty.
The on-duty firefighters in the Kansas City, Missouri, area experienced higher exposures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are a family of chemicals that are known to have the potential to cause cancer. They were also exposed to 18 PAHs that have not been previously reported as firefighting exposures in earlier research.
The study, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is published in the journal Environment International.
The results are important because previous studies have shown that firefighters have an increased risk of developing cancer and other damaging health effects, said study lead Kim Anderson, an environmental chemist and Extension specialist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.