Risk assessment of soils identified on firefighter turnout gear

Elizabeth Easter, Deborah Lander, Tabitha Huston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The purpose of this research was to identify the composition of soils on firefighter turnout gear and to determine the dermal exposure risks associated with the soils. Nine used Nomex hoods from the Philadelphia fire department were analyzed for the presence of trace metals and seven sets of used turnout gear were analyzed for semi-volatile organics. Turnout gear samples were removed from areas of the gear known to have high levels of dermal absorption including the collar, armpit, wrist, and crotch areas, from either the outer shell or thermal liner layers. The following compounds were detected: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalate plasticizers, and polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants (PBDEs). A screening risk assessment was conducted by converting the measured concentrations to an estimated dermally absorbed dose based on estimates for the permeation coefficient (Kp) and an assumed firefighting exposure scenario. Benzo(a) pyrene had the highest dermal exposure risk based on carcinogenic effects and PBDE-99 had the highest dermal exposure risk based on non-carcinogenic effects. For the metals, arsenic had the highest dermal exposure risk for the use hoods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-657
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 JOEH, LLC.


  • Contaminants
  • firefighter
  • risk assessment
  • soil
  • turnout gear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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