The link between firefighting and cancer

| Apr 9, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

A firefighting career exposes you to numerous health risks, and while some of them relate directly to fighting fires, others stem from continued exposure to certain cancer-causing substances and contaminants. A growing body of research indicates that there is a clear link between holding a firefighting job and having an elevated risk of work-related cancer, indicating that fire departments must do more to protect those who work for them. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, all firefighters face a higher risk of developing work-related cancer than the average citizen. However, firefighters who fail to consistently wear or properly launder their personal protective equipment face an even higher chance of developing lung cancer or another form of the deadly disease. 

Troubling statistics 

Just how much more likely are today’s firefighters to receive cancer diagnoses than those in other lines of work? Statistics show that firefighters today are 9% more likely than those in other fields to receive cancer diagnoses. They are also 14% more likely than those working in other fields to succumb to cancer during their lifetimes. 

Recommended safety measures 

Part of your risk of developing work-related cancer while working as a firefighter comes from exposure to cancer-causing contaminants that collect on your gear and equipment during firefighting efforts. Thus, the more efforts you make to promptly and properly wash your personal protective gear after wearing it, the better your chances of reducing your exposure levels. 

Researchers continue to study the most effective practices for cleaning firefighting gear and equipment in an effort to learn how to better protect today’s first responders.