Firefighters may be exposed to carcinogenic agents in the smoke from fires, and there has been some concern regarding firefighters' risk of developing occupational-related cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are present in most fires, posing a cancer risk. The objective of this study was to evaluate the PAH exposure among firefighters. Students (n = 9) and teachers (n = 4) at a firefighter training school delivered urine samples before and 6 to 7 hours after extinguishing burning diesel fuel. The urine samples were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography for 1-hydroxypyrene. A small but significant increase in 1-hydroxypyrene levels in the urine was found after the firefighting. This means that firefighting may cause exposure to PAHs. Although the exposure levels were low in this study, they may be different during other types of fires.
From the Division for Occupational Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway (Dr Moen) and the National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway (Dr Øvrebø).
Address correspondence to: Bente E. Moen, MD, Division for Occupational Medicine, University of Bergen, Ulriksdal 8c, N-5009 Bergen, Norway.