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J Occup Health year 2006 volume 48 number 3 page 210 - 215
Classification Field Study
Title Plasma Catecholamine Levels and Neurobehavioral Problems in Indian Firefighters
Author Manas R. RAY1, Chandreyi BASU2 , Sanghita ROYCHOUDHURY2, Sampa BANIK2 and Twisha LAHIRI2
Organization 1Experimental Hematology Unit and 2Department of Neuroendocrinology, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, India
Keywords Catecholamine, Neurobehavioral problem, Firefighter, India
Correspondence M.R. Ray, Experimental Hematology Unit, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, 37, S. P. Mukherjee Road, Kolkata-700 026, India (e-mail:
Abstract Plasma Catecholamine Levels and Neurobehavioral Problems in Indian Firefighters: Manas R. RAY, et al. Experimental Hematology Unit, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, India-Firefighting is a stressful and hazardous job. Persons engaged in firefighting are highly exposed to work-related stress as well as to smoke containing a host of chemicals potentially harmful to human health. In order to elucidate whether firefighting affects neuroendocrine and behavioral responses of firefighters, plasma catecholamine (CA) levels and the prevalence of neurobehavioral symptoms in 62 firefighters (all males, mean age 43 yr) and 52 control subjects matched for age and sex were examined in this study. Self-reported neurobehavioral symptoms data were obtained from a questionnaire survey and personal interview. Concentrations of epinephrine (E), norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) in plasma were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Compared with matched controls, the firefighters showed higher prevalence (p<0.05) of neurobehavioral symptoms such as burning sensation in the extremities, tingling and numbness, transient loss of memory, and depression, but no significant difference was recorded in the prevalences of anxiety, vertigo and dizziness. The firefighters demonstrated a more than two-fold (p<0.05) rise in plasma levels of E and NE, but the plasma DA level was relatively unchanged. Controlling age and smoking as possible confounders, firefighting was found to be associated with raised E (OR=2.15; 95% CI, 0.98-4.52), and NE levels (OR=2.24 95% CI, 1.22-3.61). In conclusion, the job of firefighting appears to be associated with stimulation of sympathetic activity and a rise in the prevalence of neurobehavioral symptoms.