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Respiratory symptoms in firefighters

Authors

  • Frans E. Greven MSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Health, Municipal Health Services Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    2. Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
    • Department of Environmental Health, Municipal Health Services, Hulpverleningsdienst Groningen, PO Box 584, 9700 AN, Groningen, the Netherlands.
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  • Jos M. Rooyackers MD, PhD,

    1. Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • Huib A.M. Kerstjens MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Dick J. Heederik PhD

    1. Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
    2. Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • The authors declare that they have no financial competing interest.

Abstract

Background

The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with respiratory symptoms in common firefighters in the Netherlands.

Methods

A total of 1,330 firefighters from the municipal fire brigades of three provinces of the Netherlands were included in the study. All subjects were administered a Dutch web-based version of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey questionnaire.

Results

General respiratory symptoms were associated with the number of fires fought in the last 12 months with odds ratios between 1.2 (95% CI 1.0–1.4) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.2–1.7) per 25 fires. A strong association was found between an inhalation incident and present respiratory symptoms with odds ratios between 1.7 (95% CI 1.1–2.7) and 3.0 (95% CI 1.9–4.7). Adjustments for smoking, sex, atopy, and age did not change any of the associations. After stratification, atopics showed elevated odds ratios.

Conclusions

It is recommended that firefighters are aware of these elevated healthcare risks associated with exposure to fire smoke and that they increase as much as possible the use of self-contained breathing apparatus. Am. J. Ind. Med. 54:350–355, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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