Respiratory function in active firefighters
Article first published online: 13 JUN 2001
Copyright © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume 40, Issue 1, pages 55–62, July 2001
How to Cite
Mustajbegovic, J., Zuskin, E., Schachter, E. N., Kern, J., Vrcic-Keglevic, M., Heimer, S., Vitale, K. and Nada, T. (2001), Respiratory function in active firefighters. Am. J. Ind. Med., 40: 55–62. doi: 10.1002/ajim.1071
- Issue published online: 13 JUN 2001
- Article first published online: 13 JUN 2001
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 FEB 2001
- National Institutes of Health. Grant Number: JF 733
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grant Number: RO1 OH 02593-O1A1
- Henry and Catherine Gaissman Foundation
- respiratory symptoms;
- lung function
Exposure to environmental pollution during firefighting may results in the development of respiratory disorders in firefighters.
The health effects of firefighting on respiratory function was investigated in a group of 128 active firefighters by recording respiratory symptoms and measuring lung function. In addition, 88 control workers, not exposed to known pollutants were studied for the prevalence of acute and chronic respiratory symptoms.
Significantly higher prevalences of dyspnea, nasal catarrh, sinusitis, and hoarseness were recorded in firefighters compared to control workers (P < 0.01). One subject developed asthma symptoms following two intense firefighting episodes. A high prevalence of acute symptoms experienced during and after fire extinguishing was also documented among these firefighters. Eye and throat irritation as well as headache were prominent. A logistic regression analysis of chronic respiratory symptoms demonstrated that odds ratios were significant for both duration of work exposure and for smoking. Lung function testing demonstrated a decrease in FEF75 in relation to predicted suggesting obstructive changes in the smaller airways. A regression analysis of ventilatory capacity tests indicated a positive relationship of forced vital capacity with length of employment, 1 s forced expiratory volume as well as FEF50 were related to smoking, and FEF75 was related to both smoking and length of employment.
Our data suggest that firefighters are at risk for developing acute and chronic respiratory symptoms as well as obstructive airway changes. Am. J. Ind. Med. 40:55–62, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.