Between fighting fires and responding to other emergencies, fire fighter personal protective equipment (PPE) is exposed to a wide range of toxic chemicals, biological pathogens and other hazardous substances. It’s well recognized that these contaminant exposures can pose significant risks to fire fighters’ immediate and long-term health, with cancer topping the list of concerns. However, knowing if current or new cleaning procedures adequately remove contaminants from PPE has yet to be fully determined.
Meanwhile, incidents like the Ebola outbreak have reinforced that we also don’t know what it scientifically takes to remove air- and blood-borne pathogens that first responders come in contact with as well.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation) recently received nearly $900,000 in Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) funding to find out. Over the next three years, the four-phase project will work to scientifically identify and establish procedures that measure how effectively cleaning processes remove a broad range of contaminants that fire fighter PPE is exposed to.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), among other project partners, will be working collaboratively with the Research Foundation on this project. To learn more, visit www.nfpa.org/PPECleaning.