Study - Investigation of secondary exposure to fire particles and PAHs in firefighter training


  • Håkan Wingfors
  • Tobias Tengel
  • Kristina Arnoldsson
  • Roger Magnusson

Publish date: 2015-12-31

Report number: FOI-R--4178--SE

Pages: 25

Written in: Swedish


  • Skin deposition
  • combustion particles
  • penetration
  • skin swipes
  • protective clothing


During firefighter's training there are numerous exercises that involve live fire and smoke diving. Previous studies have shown that there is a risk of exposure to combustion particles and associated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), not only during exercise moments but also before and after, which is denoted secondary exposure. In this study the potential for secondary exposure has been studied where several working tasks have been isolated on the MSB's exercise localities at Sandö and Revinge. The study showed that exposure concentrations in the breathing zone was generally low for instructors, and even lower for technical personnel through inhalation. Levels from area measurements and deposition samples showed that there was gradient of contamination in proportion to the proximity to exercise items, used equipment, vehicles, contaminated turnout gear and underwear. Skin deposition samples showed that smoke diving exercises increased the level of PAHs on the skin but also that subsequent shower was efficient to remove most of the deposited PAHs. This effect was however less clear for the particle-associated PAH. With the help of good procedures and routines for washing clothes, shower, housekeeping, short residence time in contaminated zones, and with suitable premises that facilitate decontamination of personnel and equipment, there are promising preconditions to keep the secondary exposure at a low level.