By Alison Sampson, UC News:
Anthony Calvillo watched his father keep thousands of people safe over the years as a firefighter with the Cleveland Fire Service. After shadowing a hazmat team in high school, it sparked an idea that eventually led to him studying occupational health at the University of Cincinnati, so he could figure out how to, in turn, help heroes like his dad.
As a student within UC’s Department of Environmental Health, he began working with researchers and fire departments throughout Greater Cincinnati and the state of Ohio to determine if washing gear in only water was as effective as using soap and water or other cleaning techniques. The results, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, uncovered that sole use of water wasn’t cutting it.
“Firefighters are exposed to toxic environments when they go into burning structures, with chemicals entering the body through multiple routes, including inhalation and skin absorption,” says Calvillo, who graduated in 2018 from the occupational hygiene master’s program in environmental health. He is the lead author on the study.
“When structure fires occur, furnishings and other synthetic household materials emit toxic fumes and have the potential to lead to serious health impacts,” says Tiina Reponen, PhD, professor of environmental health. “Known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, these chemicals are released when materials burn, and several are considered to be cancer-causing. This kind of exposure puts (firefighters) at higher risk for cancer, and this is becoming more well-documented in recent years.”
Read the full story here.