Cancer Coalition

Decontamination 101

August 23, 2021

Last week, we shared the advantages of a flash hood exchange. This week, we’d like to expand on when you should exchange your hood - and add gloves to your exchange list.

As we have previously shared, carcinogens and other toxic material can accumulate on personal protective equipment (PPE) during fire suppression activities. Firefighting hoods and gloves are two of the most problematic pieces of PPE as the hood sits directly on skin (which is highly permeable) and gloves have been shown to accumulate concentrations of carcinogens 100 times greater than that found on hoods. (Source: Cancer Among US Firefighters)

So, when should you exchange hoods and gloves? The answer is simply, when they become contaminated. Examples of such contamination include, but are not limited to:

Remember, as a firefighter, you will be exposed to an unknown number of toxins. These contaminates soil your gear. In turn, your “dirty” PPE cross-contaminates everything it comes in contact with.

We can all agree, the earlier we can decontaminate thoroughly, the more we can mitigate occupational cancer exposure and risks. These three additional proactive tips are also worth sharing:

Lastly, we encourage you to check out the “Healthy In, Healthy Out” best practices guide for reducing cancer risk. You may find the information is this free manual useful, such as items in the “low cost category” (page 4) your department can consider and adopt.

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