The life of a firefighter is filled with risk. Entering a burning building to save others means the possibility of encountering falling walls, collapsing floors, deadly smoke, and more. These risks are part of the job but there may also be other risks that are not anticipated.
For many years, researchers have connected the exposure of firefighters to burning materials with an increased risk of cancer. While there has long been a casual association between firefighting exposure and cancer, a recent study validated it.
In the study by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) it was confirmed that there is a modest increase in all-cancer risk for firefighters, as compared to the general public. This is extremely significant to anyone who has been diagnosed with work-related cancer.
Volunteer and career firefighters are routinely exposed to a complex mix of chemical vapors from burning fuel as well as a variety of synthetic materials. Asbestos, arsenic, benzene, chromium, diesel fuels, carbon monoxide, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls, which are all known carcinogens, are all very common at fire scenes.
While this is especially true in areas with old buildings, newer materials also exude their fair share of chemicals. For example, something as common as a sofa may be sprayed with synthetics.
The NIOSH study suggests that firefighters have a higher risk of cancer of the digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary systems, as compared to the general population. However, the effects of the study were small, and must be interpreted cautiously. There are hundreds of types of cancer and just as many potential toxins.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a work-related illness or injury, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gross. Call 267-589-0090 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Our offices are centrally located in Philadelphia.