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Prospective study of hepatic, renal, and haematological surveillance in hazardous materials firefighters


OBJECTIVES To evaluate possible health effects related to work with hazardous materials as measured by end organ effect markers in a large cohort over about 2 years, and in a subcohort over 5 years.

METHODS Hepatic, renal, and haematological variables were analysed from 1996–98 in hazardous materials firefighters including 288 hazardous materials technicians (81%) and 68 support workers (19%). The same end organ effect markers in a subcohort of the technicians were also analysed (n=35) from 1993–98. Support workers were considered as controls because they are also firefighters, but had a low potential exposure to hazardous materials.

RESULTS During the study period, no serious injuries or exposures were reported. For the end organ effect markers studied, no significant differences were found between technicians and support workers at either year 1 or year 3. After adjustment for a change in laboratory, no significant longitudinal changes were found within groups for any of the markers except for creatinine which decreased for both technicians (p<0.001) and controls (p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS Health effects related to work are infrequent among hazardous materials technicians. Haematological, hepatic, and renal testing is not required on an annual basis and has limited use in detecting health effects in hazardous materials technicians.

  • hazardous materials
  • firefighters
  • medical surveillance

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