01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

BioFirEx: A panel of (bio)markers for the surveillance of firefighter's health


Financing Instituitions

Participating Institutions
REQUIMTE - Rede de Química e Tecnologia - Associação (REQUIMTE-P); Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP); Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP); Instituto Politécnico de Bragança (IPBragança);


Begin Date: 1st january 2020

End Date: 31st december 2022


Total Budget: 299.625,00€

Budget attributed to ISPUP: 85.675,00€


Principal Investigator: Simone Barreira Morais


During the last decades, climate changes and global warming have substantially contributed to increase the number of forest fires, with longer fire seasons and more potent fires. Portugal has been severely affected by large forest fires and megafires, which have been occurring mainly in the northern and central regions. Fire-fighting personnel are heavily exposed to a wide range of health hazardous gaseous chemicals and particulates. Fire combat activities require both physical and emotional preparation and involve dealing with extreme situations, yet firefighter is among the least studied occupations in terms of exposures and the relationship to occupational diseases. The difficulty involved in the collection of data on personal exposure during firefighting activities has largely contributed to this scientific gap. Nowadays, the usage of biomonitoring can supply precious complementary information that can fulfill this gap.


The BioFirEx project aims to i) use a multidisciplinary approach to perform a comprehensive assessment of firefighter’s occupational exposure to hazardous pollutants generated by forest fires, ii) evaluate the associated impacts on occupational health and safety and iii) as ultimate goals, to identify a set of appropriate (bio)markers for the surveillance of the occupational exposure and workers’ health and safety, and establish a list of recommendations/good practices based on health related evidences. Occupational safety will be also evaluated through characterization of subjects’ personal protective equipment contamination after firefighting, promoting the identification of key weaknesses.


Hence, BioFirEx will provide the so-much-needed-data for establishment of a panel of (bio)markers to better characterize firefighters’ occupational exposure, health and safety to help preventing/ reducing the associated health impacts and improve working conditions. This study will allow better definitions of policies and prevention strategies for occupational exposure, as well as for implementation of safety and hygiene measures in this sector.


The goals of this project will be achieved by an inter- and multi-disciplinary collaboration between National Civil Protection Authority, Northeast Local Public Health Unit from the Portuguese Ministry of Health, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança - School of Health, EPIUnit-Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto, Faculty of Engineering - University of Porto and REQUIMTE-LAQV-School of Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of Porto. The involved team consists of specialists in firefighting, occupational exposure, air pollution and health risks assessment, chemists, biochemists, physicians (specialists in pulmonology, psychiatry and occupational health) and technicians of cardio-pulmonology health.



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