Analysis of the impact of harmful factors in the workplace on functioning of the respiratory system of firefighters

Magdalena Witt 1, Mariusz Goniewicz 2, Witold Pawłowski 3, Krzysztof Goniewicz 4, Wiesława Biczysko 5
1 - Department of Rescue and Disaster Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
2 - Medical University of Lublin, Department of Emergency Medicine, Poland
3 - Medical University of Warsaw, Department of Disaster Medicine
4 - Medical University of Warsaw, Department of Disaster Medicine; Polish Air Force Academy, Faculty of National Security and Logistics
5 - Department of Pathomorphology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences
Ann Agric Environ Med

ICID: 1233561
Article type: Original article
Introduction and objective
. Firefighters are considered a healthy and fit group of individuals, well-prepared for taking action in disaster situations. While working, they suffer from exposure to certain toxic agents, especially combustion products generated when a fire takes place. Among them, the most frequent and the most toxic are: carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and those resulting from PVC combustion – hydrochloride, phosgene and chloride. Additionally, fire-extinguisher powder can be inhaled and lead to certain lesion in the airways. The aim of study was to ascertain the influence of toxic agents present at the scene of fire on the lung tissue of firefighters, and also to study this on an animal model.
Materials and methods. The study group consisted of firefighters who had a minimum of 10 years service. After completing a questionnaire, their clinical status was ascertained based on a general examination, laboratory tests and lung function tests.
Results. Questionnaire analysis showed a high percentage of pathological symptoms in the studied group. The incidence of the symptoms correlated with the duration of occupational exposure to toxic agents. Among other results, obstruction of flow in medium airways in about 30% of the studied individuals represented the most important finding. Experimental tests were next performed on male Wistar rats, aged 3 months. They were insufflated with the solution of powdered fire-extinguisher, after which morphology specimens of lung tissue were studied. Evidence for disseminated fibrosis was obtained, which supported the previous clinical findings in the firefighters.
Conclusion. The above shows correlation between occupational exposure and respiratory system involvement in firefighters. This justifies covering the group of firefighters with special medical care focused on prophilaxis, early detection and therapy of pulmonary diseases.
DOI: 10.5604/12321966.1233561

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