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Category Press Release
Publish Date 11/21/2023
Author Paul Cochrane
Title California Firefighters and Exposure Risks to Dermal and Respirable Hazards
Introduction LA Testing offers environmental, industrial hygiene and material testing services, sampling supplies, test kits and personal protective equipment to identify and mitigate exposure risks to asbestos, lead and many other hazardous substances.

Huntington Beach, CA, Novmeber 21, 2023

California was the first state in the nation to pass a firefighter cancer presumption act back in 1982. Forty years later, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced the classification of occupational exposure as a firefighter as a Group 1 carcinogen.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also published the results of a large study of firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia in 2013 that found the population of firefighters in the study had a rate of mesothelioma two times greater than the rate in the U.S. population as a whole. Mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer are a few of the diseases exposure to asbestos fibers can cause.


The agency also reports that firefighters can be exposed to hundreds of different chemicals in the form of gases, vapors and particulates, and that some of these chemical substances are known or suspected to cause cancer. A number of these hazardous substances are byproducts of combustion or burning, such as benzene and formaldehyde. Others come from the materials burning or in the fire debris, such as asbestos or lead found in older structures.


“In California alone, there are tens of thousands of firefighters that could be exposed to a wide range of hazardous materials on a regular basis,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager at LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. “Even firefighters wearing protective clothing, known as turnout gear, could be at risk if it is not adequately cleaned or stored after a fire response or training event. Chemicals on the gear or equipment could contaminate vehicles and the fire station. Reusing dirty turnout gear or respiratory protection can also result in exposure to hazardous substances. This can occur by skin contact with contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) or by breathing in or ingesting particles from contaminated PPE.”


Fire departments in California can turn to the material, environmental and industrial hygiene testing experts at LA Testing for answers to concerns over exposure risks. Their laboratories offer testing services for asbestos, lead, smoke, residues, gases, particulate matter, chemicals and even microbial hazards. They also provide sampling supplies, easy-to-use test kits, air monitoring instruments and PPE, including respirators and respirator fit testing supplies. LA Testing has even sponsored an educational video about firefighters and occupational exposure risks to dermal and respirable hazards that can be seen at:


To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety testing resources, please visit, email or call (800) 755-1794. For access to indoor environmental quality test kits, visit


About LA Testing

LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for environmental and indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, bacteria, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.

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