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Firehouses For Health


Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Firehouses Matter for Firefighter Health

Firefighters have dangerous jobs. They’re the ones running into the burning buildings as we run away. And they face high risks of injuries and illnesses because of this job. However, while our images of firefighters and associated risks typically focuses on the fire itself, potential health hazards don’t stop when they return to the firehouse.

Most previous research on firefighter health—both on documenting exposures and possible prevention strategies—has focused on fires, and does not account for additional adverse exposures at firehouses. Firefighters spend large portions of shifts waiting for calls, where they can be exposed to pollutants such as diesel exhaust from idling trucks and off-gassing from contaminated post-fire gear. Studies in other industries have demonstrated links between the indoor environment and various health outcomes, yet little work has taken place at firehouses.

The Firehouses for Health team within are conducting research that aims to investigate firehouse adverse exposures and the potential link with cancer. They are currently working on a study that aims to quantify environmental exposures at firehouses in Boston, as well as cities and towns throughout the state of Massachusetts.

Relevant Research

Feb 15, 2021
Key Findings – PFAS Chemicals in Fire Station Dust
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Feb 5, 2021
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and total fluorine in fire station dust
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Jul 1, 2020
Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study
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Jun 23, 2020
Another Pathway for Firefighter Exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Firefighter Textiles
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Apr 22, 2020
Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity
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Oct 11, 2019
Boston Fire Department’s “Take No Smoke” Campaign
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View More Research

In the News

Feb 5, 2021
Boston Globe: Firefighters may be wearing gear that contains toxic chemicals, researchers find
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Feb 5, 2021
EWG: Study: Almost All Fluorine Detected in Fire Stations’ Dust Is From Unknown ‘Forever Chemicals’
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Jun 16, 2019
Firefighters Battle Occupational Cancer
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Sep 13, 2018
Firefighters Put Their Lives On The Line In Fires— And At Firehouses
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