Firefighters are not the only ones EXPOSED on the fireground in the after fire environment

By Dawn M. Bolstad-Johnson posted 02-15-2019 12:11 PM

I recently published a book entitled EXPOSED Carcinogenic Exposures on the Fireground and 11 work practices to minimize the risk.   The information that I collected from conducting IH sampling at over 50 fire sites lifts the veil on what is there after the smoke has cleared.  This is not only for firefighters but what about all of the other trades that go in to "Clean-up" or the construction crews that go in to remodel, rebuild etc.   As I discovered in my original research, formaldehyde can linger for days in these environments.  Many toxic gases can become trapped in the debris piles left behind long after the fire has been extinguished.  

Often N-95 respirators are passed out to homeowners or even firefighters as they finish the mop-up phase at a fire.   From an IH perspective, I cannot believe that this is still happening.  Have we as a profession failed to communicate the limitations of each type of respiratory protection?  This seems like a fundamental thing that we assume everyone already knows but they do not.  For goodness sake there is a well established OSHA Standard on this that has been around for decades.  Is this training being pencil whipped too or clicked through on a mandatory computer based course?

There is a firefighter cancer epidemic and many firefighters are being denied their workman's comp claims even when they are diagnosed with a presumed cancer.

If you are consulting with fire departments or other trades that may be entering after fire environments, please take the time to read this book.  There is original research that has not been yet published on Fire Investigator exposures.  The book is getting rave reviews. They are looking at making it required curriculum for the National Fire Safety Officer course. It is my passion to help prevent the exposure that leads to the disease.  That is why I chose industrial hygiene as my profession.

I self-published so that I could also give back to the Firefighter Cancer Charities.   25% of the proceeds from the book sales will be donated to FireFighter Cancer Charities.
You can order it online at

Also if you are looking for a topic for a Local Section PDC --  I would be happy to do an 8 hour class on the book and provide copies to all of the attendees.  You may contact me for more information at

Be Safe out there!   

Dawn​ Bolstad-Johnson, MPH, CIH, CSP, FAIHA
1 comment

03-22-2021 01:01 PM

​​I have read Dawn Bolstad-Johnson's book, "Exposed," and would recommend it for practicing industrial hygienists, even those who do not work with fire fighters.  This is because the book significantly adds to our applied knowledge base in the area of combustion products.  
Now in the context of fire fighters and others whose work is during or after a fire, the book fills a niche in that it is understandable by fire fighters and their family members and by fire arson inspectors and their family members.  In this regard, the book can potentially shift the work culture of these professions.  
It would be worthwhile for every fire station in the US to have a copy of this book and to include its primary messages as early as possible in training.