Adverse respiratory effects following overhaul in firefighters

Jefferey L. Burgess, Christopher J. Nanson, Dawn M. Bolstad-Johnson, Richard Gerkin, Tracy A. Hysong, R. Clark Lantz, Duane L. Sherrill, Clifton D. Crutchfield, Stuart F. Quan, Alfred M. Bernard, Mark L. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Overhaul is the stage in which firefighters search for and extinguish possible sources of reignition. It is common practice not to wear respiratory protection during overhaul. Fifty-one firefighters in two groups, 25 without respiratory protection and 26 wearing cartridge respirators, were monitored for exposure to products of combustion and changes in spirometric measurements and lung permeability following overhaul of a structural fire. Testing at baseline and 1 hour after overhaul included forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), serum Clara cell protein (CC16), and serum surfactant-associated protein A (SP-A). Overhaul increased CC16 in both groups, indicating increased alveolar-capillary membrane permeability. Contrary to expectations, SP-A increased and FVC and FEV1 decreased in the firefighters wearing cartridge respirators. Changes in FEV1, CC16, and SP-A were associated with concentrations of specific products of combustion or carboxyhemoglobin levels. Firefighter exposures during overhaul have the potential to cause changes in spirometric measurements and lung permeability, and self-contained breathing- apparatus should be worn during overhaul to prevent lung injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-473
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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