Do Firefighters Have A High Cancer Rate?
Today, cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighters’ health and safety.
According to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), cancer caused 66 percent of career fire fighters’ line-of-duty deaths during the six years from 2002 through 2009. Heart disease accounted for 18% of career LODDs over the same period.
Cancer was responsible for 70% of the line-of-duty deaths among career firefighters in 2016. According to the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) studies, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of getting cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of succumbing to cancer than the general U.S. population.
The causes of this increased risk included respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), GI (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine), and kidney malignancies.
Stats about Higher cancer rates among firefighters
- A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on 30,000 career firefighters who worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco between 1950 and 2009 found higher digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary rates of cancers.
- Firefighters had an increased risk of mesothelioma, most likely due to more exposure to asbestos.
- At an age younger than 66, firefighters were more likely to get various malignancies, especially bladder and prostate cancers.
- While the sample size was small, female firefighters were more likely to get bladder cancer, which is generally more common in men.
Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
Twenty-seven businesses that produce firefighting equipment have been the subject of several lawsuits filed by various groups of fighters in state courts. These firms include 3M and DuPont. The firefighters claim that the suppressing foam and their turnout gear are contaminated with PFAS, a known carcinogen.
Accor3M was aware of PFAS toxicity as early as 1950, and DuPont was aware of the dangers in 1961, yet they continued to produce PFAS-containing fire gear, which causes turnout gear cancer.
Firefighters are at significant risk of developing cancer due to their exposure to carcinogens. Some ways to protect yourself include wearing the proper safety gear, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. You should also be aware of cancer symptoms so that you can seek treatment early.