According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters have a significantly higher risk of developing digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancer. Soot, burning chemicals and materials, plastics and other byproducts are absorbed into the skin of firefighters, increasing the risk of developing cancer.
Skin absorption increases substantially under hot conditions, which firefighters are regularly exposed to on the job.
How bad has the problem become? Last year, 53 Columbus firefighters were diagnosed with cancer, many of them young and just starting their careers. The story of a 33-year-old father of five diagnosed with terminal stage-four melanoma shows that action is needed to protect and compensate firefighters. During the last year, lawmakers have put forward several solutions.
Can Firefighters Be Protected From Cancer Causing Chemicals?
Earlier in February, the Cleveland Fire Department began a cancer education class so firefighters could be made aware of the risks associated with their occupation. Firefighters who attend the courses will be told that one in three firefighters develops cancer, and that fires are more like HAZMAT scenes than disaster areas.
Cleaning residue from firetruck and equipment puts firefighters at risk, and new policies and education could find safer ways to perform these duties.
Prevention is not the only course of action that might be able to help firefighters. Ohio lawmakers have offered a solution, and they are attempting to pass legislation that would provide health coverage and workers’ compensation to firefighters afflicted by cancer.
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– Columbus Workers’ Comp Attorney