Preventing firefighter exposure hazards
Burke, Paul F.
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This thesis examines detrimental health exposures for firefighters and recommends fire service policy and equipment upgrades designed to slow or eliminate these harmful exposures. Because firefighters are exposed to numerous environmental dangers during their careers, this thesis focuses on eliminating three occupational exposures contributing to health issues: chemical flame retardants, diesel exhaust, and toxins in synthetic furniture. Existing studies written by scholars, consumer advocacy groups, and government agencies identify several exposure hazards and recommend preventive measures to address them. In addition to examining these studies, this thesis reviews a well-intentioned California state law--which allowed chemical flame retardants in home furniture and electronic products--that has caused an exposure hazard for both firefighters and the general public. The thesis also exposes necessary upgrades for firefighters’ portable air-supply units to reduce respiratory exposures. Finally, because diesel exhaust emissions have adverse health effects and are abundant in fire stations, the thesis recommends making changes to fire stations to better contain the diesel by-products of the fire trucks, including the possibility of purchasing electric-powered fire trucks to eliminate the diesel engine. Rather than providing a clinical study, this thesis offers an examination of occupational health hazards and recommends mitigative equipment and policy upgrades.
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