The treatment purports to purge drugs and toxins from a person's system through a rigorous regimen of exercise, saunas and vitamins -- a combination intended to dislodge the poisons from fatty tissues and sweat them out, using both aerobic exercise and saunas. (1)
Physicians affiliated with this detoxification regimen have touted it as a major breakthrough, and a number of patients who have undergone the treatment say their health improved. But some health authorities dismiss Hubbard's program as a medical fraud that preys upon public fear of toxins. (Full Story)
Not wanting to get into whether or not L. Ron Hubbard was on to something or not, the outcome, again, from what I recall being taught when at the National Fire Academy was that the majority of the health issues if not all went away after the firefighters went through the detoxification program. I should also note for the record that I am a Lutheran... just sayin'
From what I can remember, the regiment for the program included (and not in this order):
- aerobic exercise
- Vitamin B-12
- poly-unsaturated oils
- lots of water intake
- and... hot saunas...
A study about the program years ago talked about the first time they conducted the testing, using men from various fields, all having in common chemical exposure. Some of the participants included:
- Chemical Plant Worker
- DEA Agent
- Undercover Police Officer
- Metal Plating Worker
- Pesticide Applicator
All of these men went through the regime, which included the sauna. The first time all the men sat in the sauna, in less than 15-minutes, the sauna smelled like chemicals and had to temporarily evacuated because of the off gassing occurring inside the sauna. It worked. Over time, and under the care and supervision of a doctor, the saunas produced actual metal chips coming out of the pores of the metal plating worker and chemicals were reported to have leached out of the skin of the plant worker. The firefighter from LAFD that had been exposed to chemicals and slated to be medically retired was able to return to work full duty with 100% of the chemicals rid from his body.
Like any post, my point here is to educated and stimulate discussion about the things one can do to detoxify his or her body from the consequences of doing this job... I personally have experienced a hot shower after a fire and smelling the soot coming out of my pores. I've tried it in a hot wet sauna and the experience minimizes the number of days you actually can smell the smoke coming out of your pores and hair.
Hopefully, I've convinced some of you to at least consider using a sauna after a big fire, or any fire for that matter. Why not try to get rid of something that over time can bioaccumulate and cause cancer(s)?
Assuming you are now on board and support the concept, my key point here is that for firefighters, we have no business using a sauna that is made of wood. The wood can absorb the off-gassed toxins, possibly exposing others... The correct thing to do is to use and if you have the resources, construct your own using tile to enable a thorough decontamination of the sauna.
You also want to ensure that their is adequate ventilation through the use of both passive and engineered ventilation.
Passive ventilation needs to take advantage of normal convection and air movement.
Mechanical ventilation should be no less than the standards for a H-Occupancy, which is a hazardous occupancy by definition of the Uniform Fire Code and Uniform Building Code. This standard for H-Occupancies calls for 1 cubic foot of air to be moved for every cubic foot of floor surface area. 100 cubic foot room requires a minimum of a 100 cubic foot ventilation fan.
Should the off-gassing become too much, just opening the door to ventilate the sauna isn't enough... This includes clean out of the sauna where you are going to want to ensure all smells (vapors) go away. This is also beneficial when using a strong bleach to clean the room. Exhausting the fumes into the atmosphere is a lot nicer than the inside of your fire station.
World Trade Center rescuers undergo the detoxification discussed in this post. Very detailed explanation of what is actually involved in the doctor supervised program. You may be able to take this information alone and show it to your personal physician.
On the surface, it appears to me that L. Ron Hubbard came across something pretty cool as far as detoxifying the human body. The problems started occurring because he charged outrageous amounts of money to do something so very simple. Connection with the Church of Scientology didn't do much to lend to the credibility factor...
Still, I challenge anyone to try and spend time in a sauna post structure / wildland fire. You just might feel better and get rid of any uncomfortable signs and symptoms of toxic exposure.
Important: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate...
Stay safe and healthy,