Know The Facts

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Studies show that Firefighters face an increased risk in developing the following types of cancers:

  • Testicular cancer-102%
  • Multiple Myeloma-53%
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma-51%
  • Skin cancer-39%
  • Brain cancer-32%
  • Prostate cancer-28%
  • Stomach cancer-22%
  • Colon cancer-21%

“Rarely discussed and certainly not documented is the impact on the family of a firefighter diagnosed with cancer including the huge emotional toll, financial costs, time, and decreased quality of life not only for the firefighter but on the spouse/partner and children. They also experience the impact of a cancer diagnosis and prolonged treatment on their loved one.”

“Following the lungs, the skin is the body’s second largest organ in area and it is highly absorptive. Some areas of skin are more permeable than others, specifically the face, the angle of the jaw, the neck and throat and the groin. Skin’s permeability increases with temperature and for every 5° increase in skin temperature, absorption increases 400%. The most permeable piece of personal protective equipment is the hood. Hoods are designed to protect our head and neck from heat but are not designed to stop skin absorption through the forehead, angle of the jaw, the neck and throat.”

“It is also believed that cancer rates are potentially underreported among firefighters because many firefighters do not discover they have cancer until after retiring and are subsequently then considered to be a part of the general population comparison group.”

“Our study provides clear evidence that firefighters are exposed to high levels of cancer-causing chemicals including brominated flame retardants and their combustion by-products – dioxins and furans – that are formed during fires by the burning of flame-retarded foam furniture, televisions, computers and building materials. Firefighters have much higher levels and different patterns of these chemicals in their blood than the general population. There is no doubt that firefighting is a dangerous occupation. What we have shown here points to the possible link between firefighting and cancer.”

“Unfortunately, there is no immediate visible impact of carcinogenic exposure, since the time between exposure to carcinogens and the appearance of malignancies can be 20 years or longer, known as the latency period. We are not making this up,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said. “The connection between firefighting and cancer is real, and there is scientific data to support our position.”

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