Inflammatory and psychological consequences of chronic high exposure firefighting

Alan Richardson, Nadia Terrazzini, Catherine Gage, Ben James Lee, Rebecca Bradley, Peter Watt, Emily Rachel Watkins

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    This study aimed to examine the impact of extreme heat exposure frequency on inflammation and well-being in UK Fire Service personnel. 136 Fire personnel and 14 controls (CON) were recruited [92 Firefighters (FF), 44 Breathing Apparatus Instructors (BAI)]. BAI were split into low (LBAI; ≤15 exposures per month) and high (HBAI; ≥20 exposures per month) categories. Measures of inflammation, mood and fatigue were collected at 0, 3 and 6 month times points. These variables were analysed for differences between groups and association with frequency of exposure. HBAI exhibited raised IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IgE and lower IgM (p < 0.05). In addition, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and IgM were associated with monthly exposure number, with exposures accounting for 15.4% of the variance in IL-6, 11.8% of IL-1β and 25.2% of IL-10. No differences in mood or fatigue were reported (p > 0.05). High exposure firefighting consistently causes systemic inflammation without perceptual recognition of potential health risks. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.]
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number103399
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
    Early online date25 Nov 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

    Bibliographical note

    This article is available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license and permits non-commercial use of the work as published, without adaptation or alteration provided the work is fully attributed.


    This study was supported by the Fire Service Research and Training Trust and the University of Brighton. Funding sources had no involvement in the study design, data collection or report writing.


    • Occupation
    • Heat
    • Inflammation
    • Exposure
    • Biomarkers
    • Fire


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