New research project to look at toxins Calgary firefighters are exposed to
CALGARY -- With increased cancer risks among Canadian firefighters, AGAT Laboratories is partnering with the Calgary Fire Department to identify exposures members come into contact with.
The study looks at volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. Phase 1 of the research project will follow 30 firefighters and identify the exposures they come into contact with.
"This is the latest in a line of several initiatives introduced in recent years by the Calgary Fire Department to analyze firefighter health data, support local firefighters and promote their physical, psychological and social well-being during their years of public service and beyond," said Derrick Urbanowski, health and safety coordinator at the Calgary Fire Department, in a statement.
He adds a relatively busy fire station, in the southeast community of Forest Heights, has been chosen so a good sample can be provided for the study.
"The fire department really wants to know from our perspective, what chemicals are in our area [and] our climate are being produced for our firefighters."
Scientists say the aim of the study is to better understand the contaminants and toxic materials firefighters come into contact with so that risks can be better managed.
"It’s going to be an ongoing process, we’ve done a couple trials already and it looks like this media is collecting different compounds in the environment. Now it's a matter of seeing how many and how effective we are at collecting them," said Lisa Neville, director of science at AGAT.
AGAT says the hope is to develop beter monitoring techniques that could help keep firefighters from getting sick.
The University of the Fraser Valley conducted a study last year that found Canadian firefighters are three times more likely to die of cancer than the general population.
Findings from the study will be released once its complete.