Firefighting Instructors’ Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons During Live Fire Training Scenarios
Cumulative exposures of firefighting instructors to toxic contaminants generated from live-fire training potentially far exceed firefighter exposures arising from operational fires. This study measured the atmospheric concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) outside and inside the structural firefighting ensembles worn by instructors during five live fire training evolutions. In addition, the contamination of ensembles by deposition of PAHs was characterized. Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons outside the instructors’ structural firefighting ensembles during the training evolutions ranged from 430 μg/m3 to 2700 μg/m3, and inside the structural firefighting ensembles from 32 μg/m3 to 355 μg/m3. Naphthalene, phenanthrene and acenaphthylene dominated the PAHs generated in the live fire evolutions, but benzo[a]pyrene was the greatest contributor to the toxicity of the PAH mixture both inside and outside the structural firefighting ensembles. Deposition of PAHs onto the structural firefighting ensembles was measured at between 69 and 290 ng/cm2, with phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, and benzo[a]anthracene detected on all samples. These findings suggest that firefighting instructor exposures to PAHs during a single live-fire training evolution are comparable with exposures occurring in industrial settings over a full shift. Further research is required to investigate the importance of various potential routes of exposure to PAHs as a result of ingress and deposition of PAHs in/on structural firefighting ensembles.