Post Fire Exposures

Journal Article Addresses Airborne Contamination During Post-Fire Investigations

December 16, 2021

Anyone involved in fire investigation is encouraged to review the findings in the “Airborne contamination during post-fire investigations: hot, warm and cold scenes” peer-reviewed journal article recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

While studies on chemical exposures from fire have mostly focused on members of the fire service during fire suppression or overhaul, fire investigators may be occupationally exposed to many of the same compounds but are often tasked with working on the scene for longer periods of time ranging from hours to multiple days and may do so with limited personal protective equipment. 

UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the UL Asset and Sustainability Performance team to conduct this study which characterizes the area air concentrations of contaminants during post-fire investigation of controlled residential fires with furnishings common to current bedroom, kitchen, and living room fires in the United States. Area air sampling was conducted during different investigation phases including when investigations might be conducted immediately after fire suppression and extended out to five days after the fire. 

The study’s findings shared in this article highlight the need to protect investigators’ airways from particulates when fire investigation activities are conducted as well as during post-fire reconstruction activities. Additionally, vapor protection from formaldehyde should be strongly considered at least through investigations occurring up to three days after the fire and personal formaldehyde air monitoring is recommended during investigations.

Funding for this project was provided by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. 

Click here to read the article. 


About Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) publishes investigations that enhance the knowledge and practice of occupational and environmental hygiene and safety in the workplace and community. We publish peer-reviewed research studies that examine exposures, risks and controls that can be used to understand how exposures relate to health outcomes, and how these can be managed to the betterment of society.

Post-Fire Chemical Exposure Risks to Fire Investigators
Impact of Natural and Mechanical Ventilation on Fire Patterns in a Residential Structure
Assessing the Cardiovascular and Chemical Risks Faced by Firefighters