The implications of nanotechnology for the fire service: avoiding the mistakes of the past
O'Sullivan, Daniel John
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Firefighters are exposed to numerous hazardous materials throughout their careers. Managing that exposure is essential for the health and safety of the fire service. This thesis examines how exposure to nanotechnology will impact the fire service in the future. This cutting-edge technology has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries by improving a wide variety of products including fabrics, electronics, furniture, and building materials that can break down in the uncontrolled environment of a structural fire. As industries race to incorporate nanotechnology into everyday products, those exposed to the material as it degrades may face dangerous health complications. Given the newness of this technology, and the evolving scientific data, this thesis examines known hazards that have plagued the fire service to provide guidance on how to manage exposure to nanomaterials. Carbon nanotubes have been found to interact with lung tissue in ways similar to asbestos fibers. They have also been found to be a part of the particulate matter in diesel exhaust. Both hazards are examined to show how they have progressed and what measures have been taken to minimize exposure to them. The connection to these hazards demonstrates why it is so critical for the fire service to be aware of this new technology. It also offers guidance on the most effective methods to use to mitigate exposure.
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