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A Health Hazard Evaluation of Antimony Exposure in Fire Fighters

de Perio, Marie A. MD; Durgam, Srinivas MSPH, MSChE, CIH; Caldwell, Kathleen L. PhD; Eisenberg, Judith MD, MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 1 - p 81-84
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181c7514a
Original Articles

Objectives: Some firefighter station uniforms contain the flame-retardant, antimony trioxide. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigated a possible outbreak of antimony toxicity wherein 30 firefighters reported elevated antimony levels on hair analyses.

Methods: We surveyed and collected urine samples from firefighters not wearing (Fire Department A) and wearing (Fire Department B) antimony-containing pants. Urine antimony concentrations were measured and adjusted for creatinine.

Results: All 20 participating firefighters from Fire Department A and 41 (97.6%) of 42 participating firefighters from Fire Department B had urine antimony concentrations below or within the national reference range. No differences in urine antimony levels between departments were detected.

Conclusions: Wearing antimony-containing uniforms does not pose a risk for antimony toxicity. This investigation highlights the importance of using validated methods for toxicity determination and of accurate, timely risk communication.

From the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, (Dr de Perio, Mr Durgam, Dr Eisenberg), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Division of Laboratory Services (Dr Caldwell), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, Atlanta, Ga.

All authors have contributed significantly to the work and have reviewed and approved the manuscript.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of NIOSH.

None of the authors have any potential conflicts of interest, and we have not received any external funding for this project.

Address correspondence to: Marie A. de Perio, MD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, 4676 Columbia Pkwy, R-10, Cincinnati, OH 45226; E-mail: Mdeperio@cdc.gov.

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine