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J Occup Environ Med. 2019 Jan 7. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001535. [Epub ahead of print]

Wildland Firefighting: Adverse Influence on Indices of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health.

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Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK (Robert H. Coker, Carl J. Murphy, Michelle Johannsen, Grant Galvin); Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism, University of Montana, Missoula, MT (Brent C. Ruby).



The purpose of this study was to evaluate pre- and post-season measures of body composition, skeletal muscle, and blood parameters/liver lipid in wildland firefighters (WLFF) over the fire season.


Alaskan WLFF (N = 27) crews were evaluated pre and post wildfire season, which included 63 ± 10 operational days. Body composition, thigh muscle area and liver lipid were quantified using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and MRI, respectively. Blood metabolic and lipid panels were also collected and analyzed.


Total body, fat, and visceral fat mass increased from pre to post season (p < 0.05). Total cholesterol, LDL and total globulin also increased (p < 0.05). There was a trend (p = 0.06) towards an increase in IHL.


The observed maladaptive changes in adipose tissue, blood lipids and hepatic function may reflect adaptations/consequences to occupational demands/conditions and warrant evaluation of appropriate countermeasures.

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