Fire Fighters Association of Missouri
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Firefighter Cancer Update

If there is much good news at all regarding firefighters and cancer, it may be that firefighters may have a lower incidence of lung cancer in some studies when compared to the general population. If this holds in the current studies that are underway, it may be due to restrictions on the use of tobacco products and to the increased use of SCBA compared to past practices.

Following the lungs however, the skin is the body’s second largest organ (in area) and it is highly absorptive. Some areas of skin are more permeable than others, specifically the face, the angle of the jaw, the neck and throat and the groin. Skin’s permeability increases with temperature and for every 5° increase in skin temperature, absorption increases 400%.

The most permeable piece of personal protective equipment is the hood. Hoods are designed to protect our head and neck from heat, but are not designed to stop skin absorption through the forehead, angle of the jaw, the neck and the throat. Continue Reading →

Updates on Firefighter Cancer

Current research demonstrates an increased risk for a number of types of cancer among firefighters. Although most fire departments are responding to fewer fires than in the past, the amount of exposure time has increased due to the limited number of available firefighters, either due to budget cuts, staffing reductions or the availability of volunteers.

Today’s fires grow at a much more rapid rate than yesterday’s fires while exposing firefighters to significantly increased concentrations of highly carcinogenic agents. Today’s residential fires have more in common with hazardous materials events than old-fashioned house fires due to the materials now common in homes such as plastics and synthetics. Commercial and vehicle fires have highly concentrated toxicants and dumpster fires contain completely unknown substances and toxicants. Continue Reading →