Participant Information

Firefighter Exposure Risks and Subsequent Reproductive Effects

Why this study?
Although studies have been done to assess firefighter cancer risks, very little research has considered if firefighting may have any affect on reproduction. This research study aims to investigate whether chemicals known to be present in fire environments are also within firefighters' systems, and consider what possible affect heat and fire smoke may have on reproduction. This PhD research project is being led by a Firefighter passionately committed to firefighter health and wellbeing. 

Why participate?
A key element of this study is to determine the exposure profile of a firefighter. As such, you do not need to have children to participate, but your honest answers are needed. This study has two components to it. The first is this survey, the second requires providing a human sample (blood and urine, and/or semen and/or breast milk) and filling in a second short survey. This study is an anonymous study. If you choose to participate in the second part of the study, you will need to provide a valid contact email address. Without contact information, the research team cannot send you pathology forms, arrange delivery of breast milk collection kits, or send you the link for a further (shorter) survey specific to that blood, urine, semen and/or breast milk contribution.

If you participate:
You will be asked to complete a survey involving a series of questions requiring 5-12 minutes depending on your answers. Please complete it as honestly and thoroughly as possible. The final question will ask whether you consent to voluntarily contributing blood and urine, and/or breast milk for chemical analysis or semen for sperm shape, activity and count. No genetic testing will occur at any stage. If you consent, approximately 40ml of blood and 100ml of urine, and/or one sample of semen, and/or 150ml of breast milk will be required. Participation in this study is open until June 2021, but your prompt participation and contribution is requested. 

Can you withdraw at any time?
You can withdraw at any time without providing reason. If you have submitted a sample and wish to withdraw it you need only contact via the email address that sent you the pathology form and state that you wish to have your sample withdrawn. 

How will you benefit?
You can obtain aggregate results once the study is completed to help you understand the chemical and heat exposure profile of firefighters. The long term benefit of this study is to assist in the health and safety of firefighters. You can request study results through the survey, or by emailing the Chief Researcher Michelle Engelsman directly on Due to the nature of this study, project results may take years, so your patience is requested.

Will the information be confidential?    
At most you will be asked to provide a valid email address, you will not be requested to provide your name. That supports anonymity.

Are there any possible risks?
There is minimal risk to participating in the survey. Should you feel stressed please take a break and only return if you feel comfortable. Blood donors routinely contribute larger quantities of blood than are required by this study. As such, the risk is minimal; however, you are recommended to consult with your personal doctor. 

This study adheres to the Guidelines of the ethical review process of The University of Queensland and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Whilst you are free to discuss your participation in this study with project staff (contactable on, if you would like to speak to an officer of the University not involved in the study, you may contact the Ethics Coordinator on 07 3365 3924.

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* 1. I agree to participate in the survey section of this research project (this is not a request for you to consent for blood, urine, semen and breast milk contribution, that will be requested in a later question).

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* 2. I am employed by an Australian fire service (this includes firefighters employed full time, part time and volunteer by state or federal government, but does not include private industry or military)

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* 3. I am 18 years of age or older

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* 4. I have been given clear information about this study and I understand this information,
I have been informed of any risks to my health or well-being,
I have been assured that no personal information from this survey or any bio contributions will be made public or published, ensuring that my identity will be kept confidential,
I am aware that this PhD project study has been cleared by a human ethics committee at the University of Queensland,
I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time if I provide contact information, and at any time before submitting the survey if I do not provide contact information
I understand that (if I request it) I will only receive aggregate results from the study, not individual test results