IRSST publication

Risques pour la santé des pompiers forestiers et protection respiratoire

(Wildland firefighter health risks and respiratory protection)

Austin, Claire
Études et recherches / Rapport  R-571, Montréal, IRSST, 2008, 96 pages.

English version available : R-572

Project: Risques à la santé et protection respiratoire pour les combattants forestiers

Champ: Chemical and Biological Hazard Prevention


No Québec study on the job health risks of wildland firefighters has been carried out until now. These workers are exposed to a complex mixture of combustion products, vapours and irritant gases, carcinogens, inhalable particles and nanoparticles. These workers exert considerable effort in fighting fires and their work shifts are sometimes longer than 16 hours. Research has shown that their exposure to certain toxic products exceeds the permitted limits, at least some of the time, and that they can be affected by respiratory and neurological problems. In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association is preparing a new respiratory protection standard for wildland firefighting. This report mainly describes the working conditions of wildland firefighters and the most hazardous substances for their health. It concludes that these workers must wear appropriate respirators and know the efficiency and lifetime of filter cartridges in their work context. It recommends that current equipment be used in conjunction with a carbon monoxide detector.

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