Firefighters

It is hard enough to fight the challenges you can see. Do not let the ones you cannot see overwhelm you.

The brave men and women who risk their lives for our own safety are our first line of defense when it comes to fires and accidents but often times, it is not just the fiery blaze they must overcome. One of the potential risks for firefighters is the exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Firefighters

It is hard enough to fight the challenges you can see. Do not let the ones you cannot see overwhelm you.

The brave men and women who risk their lives for our own safety are our first line of defense when it comes to fires and accidents but often times, it is not just the fiery blaze they must overcome. One of the potential risks for firefighters is the exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

POPs and Firefighters

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment. Adverse reproductive, developmental, behavioural, neurological, endocrine, and immunological health effects have all been linked to POPs. One of the greatest occupational risks for firefighters is the exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs can be inhaled from smoke emissions while extinguishing fires and the combustion of furniture, electronic devices, and other items that have been manufactured with POP elements. The complexity of containing fires means that even the protective equipment used may contain flame retardants such as HBCD or the toxic fluorinated chemical PFOS, that can turn our heroes most vulnerable, making the battle to reduce loss of life and sickness an even more challenging one.

Understanding the dangers

How Firefighters are being affected by POPs

UPOPs (unintentional POPs) can be inhaled from smoke emissions while extinguishing fires and the combustion of items manufactured with POPs chemicals. These include furniture and electronic devices. When these items are burnt, the chemicals are then distributed into the smoke, ash, dust, and debris, which can then be transferred to you. The complexity of containing fires means that even the protective clothing used by firefighters may contain POPs flame retardants (HBCD). Additionally, long term exposure to high concentrations of aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) can affect health and the environment as these may contain PFOS, a toxic fluorinated chemical.

Danger lurks where you least expect it

Firefighters, safeguard yourselves!

Firefighters have been shown to be at elevated risk of contracting a host of cancers after an extended period of time in the service, from respiratory and digestive cancers, to testicular, breast, and brain cancer. Since many household items such as plastics, electronics and furniture are manufactured with POPs, the very fires that firefighters encounter have become more toxic than ever. All of these dangerous chemicals may be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed through the skin when they are burnt. Follow these simple tips to protect yourself from POPs:
  • Do not use PFOS/PFAS containing firefighting foams for training. Seek safer alternative firefighting foams.
  • Store current stocks appropriately-consider Material Safety Data Sheets for guidance on secondary containment.
  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whenever handling equipment. Wash contaminated PPE per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Seek appropriate disposal of PFOS fire-fighting foam. Dispose of old or spent foam per manufacturer’s guidelines.

Firefighters, Reduce your exposure today!

Have a look at some of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that can affect your health and wellness.

UPOPs (unintentional POPs) can be inhaled from smoke emissions while extinguishing fires and the combustion of items manufactured with POPs chemicals. These include furniture and electronic devices. When these items are burnt, the chemicals are then distributed into the smoke, ash, dust, and debris, which can then be transferred to you. The complexity of containing fires means that even the protective clothing used by firefighters may contain POPs flame retardants (HBCD). Additionally, long term exposure to high concentrations of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) can affect health and the environment as these may contain PFOS, a toxic fluorinated chemical.
PBDEs & HBCD
At and around your household, you and your family may be exposed to a variety of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including the Brominated Flame Retardants: PBDEs & HBCD. These chemicals have been found to have fatal consequences on our health and the environment.
Pesticides
Whether you are on a farm spraying your crops or at the grocery store shopping for produce, you may be in contact with Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) including Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Pesticides and not even know it. Health effects that have been associated with chemical pesticides include negative impacts to the dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological,...
UPOPs
In your backyard or even at the dinner table, you may be in contact with Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs) and not even know it. Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of UPOPs may result in skin lesions such as chloracne, patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function.
PCBs
If you live or work near sites where PCB oils have been used or stored (such as power generation stations or transformer storage sites) you may be exposed to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) called PCBs and not even know it. PCBs have demonstrated effects such as cancer in animals and other negative effects on the...
PFOS
There are few contaminants that have been found around the world like Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS). Used in many popular consumer goods such as stain-resistant carpets, Teflon pans, and cardboard boxes, PFOS has infiltrated our soils, air and water sources, becoming a serious threat to our health and to wildlife.

Firefighters, do you need some more information?

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