Sue Reed

Assoc. Prof, ECU

Has over 40 years experience as an academic, researcher and practitioner in the field of occupational health and safety specifically in field of occupational and environmental hygiene.  For the last 10 years Sue has been working at ECU most recently as the Director, Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety in the School of Medical & Health Sciences. Has either authored or co-authored over 50 papers and conference presentations. Most recently she is one of the editors of AIOH book “Principles of Occupational Health and Hygiene, An Introduction”.  Sue is a past President of the AIOH


Fire Fighters are compelled by their employment to take all necessary steps for protecting and saving life and property, whilst preventing and extinguishing fires and when combating hazardous material incidents. As a consequence they may be exposed to a range of chemical, physical, biological, ergonomic and psychosocial hazards in response to call outs, including fires, HAZMAT spills and other emergencies. Their health concerns include cancer risk, cardiovascular risk, physical stress, heat stress, psychological stress, and infections. The acute toxic effects of smoke from fires include lacrimation, upper respiratory tract irritation and impairment of lung function. There are also potential synergistic effects of exposure to oxygen depletion, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, for example causing asphyxiation. Chronic effects include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Pyrolysis products in fire smoke consist of a cocktail of many chemicals including carcinogenic chemicals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists carcinogens that may be found in various fire smoke scenarios. Some limited research has shown, in small trials, that firefighting clothing can absorb a range of airborne contaminants that can then be later analysed to determine what was present during a fire event. There are no published studies that could be found relating to airborne exposures of Australian firefighters, and limited studies internationally, during major fire activities including either structural or wild fires. This presentation will discuss the initial results of a pilot study to identify some of the hazardous materials Fire Fighters are exposed to from constituents of the smoke of a structural fire.

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Tuesday 1st Dec Day 2

Fire Fighter Exposure