Firefighting Linked to Cancer

The founder of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Mike Dubron, recently answered questions about firefighters and the possible connection to cancer. 

Dubron is a cancer survivor and discussed his fight as opening his eyes to the different ways in which firefighters are vulnerable to  carcinogens in the workplace including hazardous chemicals and building materials.  His research led him to various studies, including Grace Lemasters’ report from the University of Cincinnati, which shows a direct correlation between certain types of cancer and firefighting.

There are constant risks for firefighters, even when they are at the station. Benzene exposure from fire engine exhaust is very common. Fighting structural building fires brings the added danger of emissions from both known and unknown dangerous construction materials. 

A major concern amongst firefighters is the increased potential for asbestos exposure while fighting fire in older buildings.  Exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen common in construction products, can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other health problems. 

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused almost always by asbestos exposure and has a life expectancy of less than two years after a diagnosis. Mesothelioma law has become major industry because many asbestos manufacturers continued to supply products despite their knowledge of its harmful effects.

Now that there is evidence firefighters have an increased risk of cancer, it is important to determine the best safety measures going forward. Wearing a breathing apparatus at all times and continually maintaining the proper equipment are recommendations from Dubron. Additional suggestions from him include diesel exhaust removal systems and annual wellness exams for firefighters.

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