Firefighting Air Quality

Should You Use Air Decon in Your Personal Vehicle?

Authored By
Date July 30, 2022
Date July 30, 2022
Share mail

Have you ever carried your bunker gear around in the family car? Have you ever ridden home after a call wearing clothes that smell like smoke? If so, you may be exposing yourself and your family to airborne contaminants with links to long-term health concerns. 

In this article, we’re going to make an argument for why you should consider an air decontamination system for your personal vehicle. First, let’s review what air contaminants firefighters and first responders need to watch out for. 

Firefighter and First Responder Air Contamination 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are one of the three major air contamination concerns that firefighters face. VOCs are known to cause cancers and other long-term diseases over time. They are found in several items, including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, furnishings, and more. Their prevalence makes it likely that you will encounter them during a fire. As the fire burns, these VOCs can land on your gear and travel with you into the fire apparatus, back to the station, and if you take your gear into your personal vehicle, into the family car. 

Your gear may also carry particulate matter into your vehicle. Particulate matter carries risks just like VOCs. Particulates are often too small to see with the naked eye but can be inhaled and find their way into your lungs or blood stream. This can lead to long-term health problems. 

Firefighters and first responders also face their fair share of aerosols carrying viruses and bacteria. Airborne viruses and bacteria can cause communicable diseases to spread. You are likely to encounter them when sharing spaces with your crew, family, or strangers. 

Looking for a more in-depth discussion of contaminants that you may face? Read our article on VOCs, particulates, and aerosols carrying viruses and bacteria here

3 Reasons to Use an Air Decontamination System in your Personal Vehicle 

Now that we’ve reviewed the three biggest airborne threats to firefighters and first responders, let’s talk about a few reasons you should consider air decontamination and air filtration for your personal vehicle, especially if you carry gear in it. 

  1. You’re still being exposed to VOCs and particulates after the call. 

    Your turnout gear protects you in the worst types of situations. When you’re facing a fire, it’s one of the things that keeps you safe from the heat and smoke. That same gear also carries around volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the fire. Over time, these VOCs are released back into the air through a process called off-gassing. When your gear sits in your car, it off-gasses and releases some of those contaminants into the air you and your family breathe. This puts you, your family, and anyone else who rides in that vehicle at risk! 

  2. Exposure can Lead to Long-Term Illness.

    Exposure to particulates and VOCs has been linked to cancer and various other long-term health problems. If you and your family regularly encounter these contaminants, you may be increasing your risk. Down the road, this may affect your quality of life, retirement, and expenses. 

  3. Air Decontamination can handle germs too! 

    Aerosols carrying viruses and bacteria aren’t limited to emergency calls. Everyone carries and spreads germs, especially children. If you have kids that come into your vehicle, you can help mitigate the risk of them sharing the common cold, the flu, and even SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of course, adults spread germs, too! Even if you don’t have children and you use your personal vehicle to drive friends or family around, you will encounter microbes, viruses, and bacteria that can make you ill. 

Take Our Survey 

We’re looking for information from people like you! Take our six-question survey to help us better serve your needs