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Understanding Impacts of California Wildfires on Residents, Emergency Responders and Remediation Workers with Advanced Sampling Methods and Analysis


Written By:  Hamid Arabzadeh, CIH and Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, SCP, President

November 6, 2018


Exposure Assessment – Industrial Hygiene IH Monitoring Plan

  • Scope based on Impact Assessment
  • Identify Risks to Measure
  • Select Substances and Routes of Exposure of Concern
  • Select Monitoring Methods for all identified risks
  • Develop Logistics Plan for locations as needed


-Competent Personnel

-Sampling Media

-Safety for IH sampling personnel

  • Identify laboratory and chain-of-custody procedures
  • Establish reporting methodology to stakeholders

-Fire Departments

-Other Public Sector

-Private Sector and Public

-What data will be available when, for which stakeholders

  • Identify gaps



-Reporting methodology

  • Develop continuous improvement model for gaps


Sampling Methods

Chemicals of Concern

  • PAHs.
  • PCBs.
  • HCN
  • CO.
  • Unusual combustion products

-Flame retardants, pesticides, unknown chemicals in buildings, sheds.

  • Commercial properties

-Hazmat lists provided to local fire services.

Media of Concern

  • Air samples.
  • Water samples.
  • Bulk Samples, ash, soot, char, unknowns.

Analytical Methods

  • Accurate
  • Validated
  • Repeatable
  • Reliable in the field


Presentation Concepts

  •  Understanding the Impacts of Wildfires on

-Public at large


-Emergency Services and Firefighters

-Remediation workers

  • Exposure Assessment – IH Monitoring Plan
  • Sampling Methods-Portable, Direct Reading, Remote sensing 
  • Analytical Methods




-Suitable for extreme, remote environments

  • Remediation Protocol

-Cost effective

-Safe for workers

  • Site Safety Plan

Impacts of Wildfire


  • During the emergency, evacuation and safe shelter.
  • Post-emergency, returning to residence exposures.


  • During evacuation.
  • Returning to homes and businesses.
  • Recovery and Business Continuity.

Emergency Services and Firefighters

  • Safety during emergency.
  • Exposures during emergency: heat, air, safety hazards.
  • Exposures after fire.

Remediation Workers

  • Exposures to residues: solids, air and liquid.
  • Safety hazards.


Site Specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP)

  • Scope Coordinated with Operations Chief.
  • Identify Personnel on Scene and Operations Plan Tasks.
  • Identify Substances and Routes of Exposure of Concern.
  • Select Immediate Monitoring Methods for all identified risks based on immediate technical resources and safety needs.
  • Develop Logistics Plan based on immediate resources and needs.

-Monitoring Equipment

-Competent Personnel

-Sampling Media

-Safety for IH sampling personnel


Site IH Safety Plan 

  • Identify Personal Protective Equipment needs based on hazard assessment.
  • Air, supplied air, other air purifying equipment.
  • Head, hands, feet, eyes.
  • Heat Stress Protection Plan.
  • Identify teams for entry into hot zones.
  • Develop exit and hazmat decontamination plans.
  • Develop rescue plans.
  • Identify gaps.



-Reporting methodology

  • Develop continuous improvement model for gaps.




  • Wildfires present significant hazards based on chemical exposure to multiple populations and through multiple media.
  •  The chemistry of wildfire hazards is not a mature science and there are gaps being filled right now.
  •  Chemical hazards extend beyond immediate concerns of firefighters to the public and remediation workers.
  •  Industrial Hygiene Science for Recognition, Analysis and Control will be a significant factor in the future success in preventing wildfire chemical and related risks from causing significant injury to all stakeholders.


Our primary service areas for are:  NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, (Boston) MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, (Chicago) IL, VA, IN, (Atlanta) GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, (Dallas, Ft Worth) TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.

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