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Elevated Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Other Organic Mutagens in Ottawa Firefighters Participating in Emergency, On-Shift Fire Suppression

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Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada
Ottawa Fire Services, 1445 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 7L9, Canada
§ Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 3M7, Canada
Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, Health Canada, 50 Colombine Driveway, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9, Canada
Centre de toxicologie du Québec, Institut national de santé publique du Québec and Université Laval, 945 Avenue Wolfe, Québec City, Québec G1V 5B3, Canada
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, 51, 21, 12745–12755
Publication Date (Web):October 18, 2017
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    Occupational exposures to combustion emissions were examined in Ottawa Fire Service (OFS) firefighters. Paired urine and dermal wipe samples (i.e., pre- and post-event) as well as personal air samples and fire event questionnaires were collected from 27 male OFS firefighters. A total of 18 OFS office workers were used as additional controls. Exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other organic mutagens were assessed by quantification of urinary PAH metabolite levels, levels of PAHs in dermal wipes and personal air samples, and urinary mutagenicity using the Salmonella mutagenicity assay (Ames test). Urinary Clara Cell 16 (CC16) and 15-isoprostane F2t (8-iso-PGF) levels were used to assess lung injury and overall oxidative stress, respectively. The results showed significant 2.9- to 5.3-fold increases in average post-event levels of urinary PAH metabolites, depending on the PAH metabolite (p < 0.0001). Average post-event levels of urinary mutagenicity showed a significant, event-related 4.3-fold increase (p < 0.0001). Urinary CC16 and 8-iso-PGF did not increase. PAH concentrations in personal air and on skin accounted for 54% of the variation in fold changes of urinary PAH metabolites (p < 0.002). The results indicate that emergency, on-shift fire suppression is associated with significantly elevated exposures to combustion emissions.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b02850.

    • Figure S1 shows sample collection procedures. Tables showing PAH measurements and concentrations and summaries of potency values and biomarker concentrations. Tables showing the effects of personal air total and dermal PAH levels and general linear models describing event-related increases in total urinary PAH metabolites. (PDF)

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