The FSI team. NIOSH and our partners at UL have been conducting a series of studies aimed at investigating thermal and cardiovascular strain of firefighting and chemical exposures, and specifically how they're affected by gear configuration, and the base layers that firefighters are wearing. Our motivation for this research is to keep firefighters safer. And we know that one of the things we have to do to achieve that goal is to minimize chemical exposure, particularly to these compounds that we know to be carcinogenic, or probable carcinogens. We're also concerned about the pH is the particulate matter and the volatile organic compounds, because they can have other detrimental effects in the body, even beyond their cancer causing potential. It may be that they're causing inflammation in the vascular system, leading to excessive blood clotting, that increases a risk for cardiac event. And it also increases the likelihood of pulmonary disease. So by looking at chemical exposures and the ways to reduce it, we're really looking to keep firefighters safer as they do their job, and more effective on the fire ground with a longer career.
We'll collect your breath and your urine and we'll know what got inside of you. Pretty straightforward. I FSI is uniquely positioned to bring different researchers, different subject experts from different organizations to come together to solve a problem that is Allah bigger than all of us. To answer some of the research questions we have, we were able to bring together researchers from NIOSH from UL From Skidmore, all in one location, so we can actually look at the impact of carcinogens on firefighters. Much of the previous research has really focused on what we can do after firefighting to lessen exposures. But in this study, we really wanted to focus on what we can do during firefighting to help reduce exposures. To do that we bring participants into the lab, we collect baseline biological samples, breath urine samples, fit the participants with the physiological status monitor to measure heart rate, core temperature, and then we fit the participants with base layers. Once the participants are in their base layer, they move down and get dressed into our turnout gear. We're testing three conditions. It's short sleeves, shorts, with our standard gear, the long base layers, long sleeve long pants with standard gear, and then long base layers with the custom one piece turnout gear. One of the challenges of fireground operations is how unique all the different movements are. So our fireground exposure simulator allows us to recreate the work and the physiological burden of firefighting, but in a way that's easily quantifiable, and allows us to get consistent work between all of our different trials. So throughout the activities, our firefighters are working in the smoke conditions in the heat, using real fuels, but in a much more controlled, quantifiable environment. So we can tell what's in the environment, we look at what gets into the body through the breath, what's metabolized into the urine, and we can track those compounds as they move from the fuel into the environment and into or on the firefighter. Our role in this set of experiments is to ensure consistent repeatable fires across each set of firefighters. So we want to make sure we document the differences in temperature between each experiment. In each experiment. We act as safety officers, for the sense of firefighters to ensure that they're doing the activities in a repeatable and consistent manner, and to ensure that they don't run into any issues while they're inside of the container. If there's one thing that characterizes firefighting, it's heat stress. You simply cannot Dawn all of this gear perform strenuous work in that environment and not experience heat stress. Throughout the study, our participants wear physiological status monitors that record heart rate in core temperature. These measures of heat stress allow us to look at trade offs between levels of protection and the impact of the environment impact of the heat and that heat stress on the firefighter. So for these experiments, we design the DAC system that collects our data, were able to capture temperature measurements, then it also has the capability to have counter channels. So we're able to count the number of reps that each firefighter does when they're in the camp. Doing the hose advancement and overhaul simulations. It's important to capture these activities of the firefighters to compare workloads between different
groups. So when the biological data comes back we have a, somewhat of a metric to compare those two groups in terms of what their simulated activities might be. Our participants are wearing all white base layers so that we can visually inspect where some of these areas of concern might be perhaps where there's breakthrough in the gear, or where they might be touching themselves pre or post exposure that could be getting close to their skin, the firefighters will then doff those, the white base layers will then take those samples and cut small pieces of the fabric from several different sites. We'll send that off to the lab that will help us characterize break through and the donning and doffing exposures that firefighters will have. The air sampling helps us to understand the environment that the firefighters are in. The fabric sampling helps us to understand any breakthrough that there could be in the gear and also what may be touching the skin and also could be absorbed. The breath sampling helps us to understand what is being absorbed and in the lungs and then exhale post exposure and the urine sampling helps us to understand what was absorbed and excreted at a later time. All of this information comes together so that we can better understand the entire exposure pathway of firefighting.