As part of an environmental monitoring and medical surveillance programme to evaluate potential health hazards from firefighting, complete baseline medical examinations were performed on a cohort of 77 firefighters. During a ten day study period, 37 follow up medical examinations were performed after exposure to fire to monitor any significant differences in pre-fire and post-fire physiological indices, including pulmonary function and blood counts and chemistries. For the group as a whole, no significant differences were found. For individuals not wearing respiratory protective equipment, however, statistically significant post-fire decrements in FEV1 and FVC were noted. These decrements were consistent with previously shown levels of exposure to pulmonary toxicants in this cohort. These results support the need for more extensive use of respiratory protective equipment by firefighters.
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