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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Default Leather After Exposure to Haz Mat

    I am sure this has been addressed before, but it just came up the other day in a dicussion I had.

    What is the effect of hazardous materials exposure to leather helmets and boots?

    I know that leather can be impregnated with chemical and can become a health hazard. This often happens with leather boots in many ocupations, from weed sprayer, garbage collector to a highway department laborer.

    Fire fighters are exposed to just as many toxic materials as any other ocupation, excluding dedicated haz mat techs.

    So, in normal day to day FF ops, do leather boots and helmets become contaminated with hazardous materials to the point of becomeing a health hazard?

    A local trainer realy stresses washing off your turnouts after any and all exposure to any amount of any material. He is VERY paranoid when it comes to cancer and such.

    The effects of contaminated leather, weather you wear it on you feet or head, would drive this guy up a wall. He does have a point IMO, but just how much danger is there? If you helmet is a chemical sponge, putting it on your head may not be wise.

    Has there been any NFPA OSHA reserch into this?

    Thanks
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Rhetorical question:

    I understand your concern about leather soaking up contaminates.

    But how do you know your rubber boots don't have small cracks that are allowing contaminates through impregnating the felt liner. You'd think it was just sweat...and without sending them out for a pressure test, you'll never know. If you've never stepped in a puddle on fireground and felt a leak through rubber boots...you haven't been around very long (I used to go about 3-4 years before leak through)...and I'll bet that isn't a sudden tear in the rubber either but a slowly enlargening tear.

    ===============

    You can take any concern to the nth degree. We just about universally use leather gloves and chuck 'em if necessary. Leather boots are so much safer from their comfort/fit that it far outweighs any concerns about occassional contaminates. Yeah, keep rubbers around if you got to mucking around in gunky stuff. But day to day leather is so much nicer.

    As for the Helmet, that's why there's Sherwin Williams & Rustoleum. Keep it painted, there ain't much to soak in.

  3. #3
    Senior Member FFMcDonald's Avatar
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    Not to toot the NFPA horn - which everyone seems to hate so much in here...

    But-- if you follow the NFPA's guidelines as set forth in NFPA 1500, Standard for Occupational Safety and Health - then you are doing pretty good.

    Also follow the manufacturers guidelines. Not only those of the boot manufacturer - but also those of the PPE manufacturer. These are the people that made the equipment, engineered it, know its limits, etc...

    After a big fire - I usually hose myself off to get the bulk of the 'contaminants' off. I usually wash my gear once every 2 months. I have leather boots and I take care of them regularly. After they dry completely - they get a fresh coat of polish and a buff shine.

    As for your local trainer - and his paranoya about cancer... well, the best guess I can give is to consult the NIOSH Pocket Guide - it contains a list of all known carcinogens.
    Remember though - there are not only carcinogens out there - but also mutagensm and teratogens.
    They are also equally as harmful to the human body.

    Mutagens are chemicals that cause human DNA to mutate - resulting in birth defects in newborns, as well as Teratogens - which affect a newborn fetus while it is developing.
    Marc

    "In Omnia Paratus"

    Member - IACOJ
    "Got Crust?"

    -- The opinions presented here are my own; and are not those of any organization that I belong to, or work for.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Actually, Tetratogens (sp?) are the real insidious ones -- they don't necessarily cause problems for your children...

    They cause birth defects in your children's children

  5. #5
    Senior Member FFMcDonald's Avatar
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    Not trying to be a ***** - just trying to educate the masses....

    (Dalmatian90 - please don't take offense - I consider you a friend )

    From Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene, 4th Edition, Chapter 6- Industrial Toxicology (published by the National Safety Council)

    Mutagenesis
    A mutagen is an agent that affects the genetic material of the exposed organism. It may cause cancer, birth defects, or undesirable effects in later generations. People who work with a certain chemical may not be harmed but their offspring may be. There can be a significant time lag between exposure and effect. Mutations may not show up until the next generation at the earliest, and may not appear for several generations.

    Teratogenesis
    Teratogenesis (congenital malformation) results from interference with the normal embryonic development by a biological, chemical, or physical agent. Exposure of a pregnant female may, under certain conditions, produce malformations of the fetus without inducing damage to the mother, or killing th fetus. Such malformations are not hereditary.


    So - I was essentially correct - but checked the books - cause I wanted to make sure I wasn't spreading mis-information.

    Marc

    "In Omnia Paratus"

    Member - IACOJ
    "Got Crust?"

    -- The opinions presented here are my own; and are not those of any organization that I belong to, or work for.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Du'oh...READ Dal, READ the post...Du'oh...

    McDonald's correct...I must be reading the sports page too much recently!

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