PURPOSE:Previous studies of respiratory function in firefighters indicated that lifestyle and exposure to irritants may result in lung function impairment and in high prevalence of symptoms. The aim of the present study was to investigate the above-mentioned factors in the firefighters of Thessaloniki, Greece.
METHODS:A total of 210 male firefighters, mean age 38.6 ± 6.6, participated in the study. They filled-in a questionnaire under the supervision of a doctor. The BMI was calculated and they underwent chest radiography, gas blood analysis, spirometry and 6 minute walk test (6MWT).
RESULTS:Concerning nasal symptoms 32% reported congestion, 13% catarrh, 12% sneezing and 6% impairment of smelling. Regarding the lower respiratory track 21% complained of cough, 14% of wheezing, 10% of dyspnea and 12% of chest tightness. Cough and dyspnea were positively associated with pack/years (p< 0.001 and p=0.035 respectively). Moreover spirometry was abnormal in 26%. pO2 in 34% and HbO2 in 23% of the participants. Dyspnea, tightness and abnormal spirometry were positively associated with the number of firefighting incidents. Acute symptoms after firefighting encountered 19.6% of the participants. 14.7% of them were reported 30–240 minutes after exposure. Report of symptoms was significantly higher when the duration of the last incident was increased (p= 0.006). The prevalence of overweight (BMI 25–30) and obesity (BMI>30) was 55% and 28% respectively. Obesity was more frequent among firefighters having been on duty for more than 15 years (p=0.009) and was strongly associated with blood gas disorders, such as decline in pO2 and in HbO2 (p=0.027 and p=0.019 respectively) comparing to overweight ones. Furthermore the reduction of HbO2 during the 6MWT was statistically significant in obese compared to normal BMI (p=0.001). 64% of the participants were smokers, 41% current and 23% former.
CONCLUSION:Firefighters seem to be at increased risk for developing acute and chronic respiratory symptoms along with lung function impairment.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS:Firefighting incidents can affect directly respiratory function while lifestyle, especially obesity and smoking probably has an indirect impact.
DISCLOSURE:Dimitrios Gioulekas, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information