Analysis of combustion byproducts on firefighter protection equipment and in firefighter urine using novel high resolution GC/Q-TOF and bioassays

Non-Targeted Compound Screening
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , S. Beitel, S. Snyder

Contact Information:; 720-454-7066


Cancer is the leading cause of fire service morbidity and mortality, with lung cancer occurrences being elevated in firefighters. During a fire, firefighters are exposed to smoke and elevated levels of organic chemicals, such as flame retardants, originating from furniture, carpets, etc. as well as their combustion by-products. High resolution MS is extremely advantageous when it comes to the analysis of the environmental contaminants in complex matrices, especially for identification of trace compounds. In vitro bioassays on the other hand can be employed for the evaluation of complex mixtures of known and unknown chemicals.
Helmet, firefighter body wipes and urine samples prior to and after exposure to smoke were collected and extracted. GC data were acquired using a novel 7250 accurate mass high resolution GC/Q-TOF system. The data were processed using MassHunter B.08.00 Qualitative Analysis software and Unknowns Analysis. Initial compound identification was performed by spectra comparison with NIST14 EI library and confirmed by Retention Index (RI) matching. Mass Profiler Professional (MPP) software was used for statistical analysis. An aliquot of the extract was tested on two in vitro bioassays including an AhR activation assay and a p53 reporter gene activity assay.
Preliminary data of urine samples showed elevated concentrations of hydroxylated polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as naphthols, fluorenols and phenanthrols after exposure to smoke. In the unknown data analysis, multiple PAHs and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were identified on the helmet and the skin wipes. MPP analysis suggested the presence of over 40 different brominated species (including PBDEs) in helmet wipes and skin wipes after exposure. Over a dozen PAHs and their derivatives were also identified. In addition, the in vitro bioassay results show increased activity 2-10h after exposure compared to urine samples taken prior to exposure. Differences in monitoring results with respect to protective equipment are currently being evaluated.