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The link between firefighting and cancer

Those who enter into a career as a firefighter do so with a strong understanding of just how dangerous your chosen profession can be. Firefighters face numerous risks related directly to fighting fires, from burns and smoke inhalation to falls and traffic accidents. But you also face additional hazards that can arise years later as a result of environmental exposures on the job.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, you face a particularly high risk of developing work-related cancer when you make your living as a firefighter. In fact, firefighters are 9% more likely than the average American to receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime and are 14% more likely to die from cancer than the rest of the general population.

Environmental hazards

In the past, some firefighters went without personal protective equipment when working in the field because they considered fighting fires in the absence of this equipment to be a sign of toughness and fortitude. However, research shows that failing to wear such equipment can leave you substantially more at risk of developing lung cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Contamination control

While, nowadays, most employers and firefighters fully comprehend how critical it is to wear personal protective equipment, failing to properly clean this equipment can also increase your risk of developing cancer. Contaminants and carcinogens can build up on your gear and equipment when you fight fires, so it is critical that you follow all recommended cleaning procedures to adequately remove toxic chemicals, pathogens and other potentially harmful substances from them. In addition to cleaning all personal protective equipment thoroughly, you must do so as soon as you possibly can to reduce your risk of exposure to cancer-causing substances.

Soiled personal protective equipment can cross-contaminate anything it touches, so removing harmful substances from your equipment as quickly and thoroughly as possible is an important line of defense against cancer.

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