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Clinical Investigations: SARCOIDOSIS |

The Incidence, Prevalence, and Severity of Sarcoidosis in New York City Firefighters*

David J. Prezant, MD, FCCP; Atheya Dhala, MD; Andrew Goldstein, MD, FCCP; Denise Janus, MD; Felipe Ortiz, MD; Thomas K. Aldrich, MD, FCCP; Kelly J. Kelly, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the New York City Fire Department, Bureau of Health Services (Drs. Prezant and Kelly), and The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center (Drs. Prezant, Dhala, Janus, Ortiz, and Aldrich), Department of Medicine, Pulmonary Division, Bronx, NY.

Correspondence to: David J. Prezant, MD, FCCP, Montefiore Medical Center, Pulmonary Division, Centennial 423, Bronx, NY 10467



Chest. 1999;116(5):1183-1193. doi:10.1378/chest.116.5.1183
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Objective: The etiology of sarcoidosis is unknown, but epidemiology suggests that environmental agents are a factor. Because firefighters are exposed to numerous toxins, we questioned whether sarcoidosis was increased in this cohort.

Setting: The New York City Fire Department (FDNY), employing > 11,000 firefighters and nearly 3,000 emergency medical services (EMS) health-care workers (HCWs).

Design: In 1985, FDNY initiated a surveillance program to determine the incidence, prevalence, and severity of biopsy-proven sarcoidosis in firefighters. In 1995, EMS HCWs were added as control subjects.

Results: Between 1985 and 1998, 4 prior cases and 21 new cases of sarcoidosis were found in FDNY firefighters. Annual incidence proportions ranged from 0 to 43.6/100,000, and averaged 12.9/100,000. On July 1, 1998, the point prevalence was 222/100,000. For EMS HCWs, annual incidence proportions were zero. Radiographic stage 0 or stage 1 sarcoidosis was found in 19 firefighters (76%), and stage 3 was found in 1 firefighter (4%). Pulmonary function (FVC, FEV1, and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide) was normal in 17 firefighters (68%), and reduced to ≤ 65% predicted in 2 firefighters (8%). Maximum oxygen consumption (MV̇o2) was normal in 10 of 17 firefighters (59%), and reduced to 65% predicted in 3 firefighters (12%). Five of seven firefighters (71%) with abnormal MV̇o2 had gas exchange abnormalities, and none had O2 desaturation. All returned to fire fighting.

Conclusions: Annual incidence proportions and point prevalence were increased in FDNY firefighters as compared to EMS HCWs and historical controls. Radiographs and physiologic measurements demonstrated only minimal impairment.

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