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Thread: Why Cancer Is the Number One Killer of Firefighters

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    Why Cancer Is the Number One Killer of Firefighters

    It’s not the flames or even the smoke. It’s the toxins that escape during a fire that are causing high cancer rates among the nation’s firefighters.

    In the new film “Only the Brave,” 19 members of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots, a skilled team of firefighters from Arizona, die when a bolt of lightning ignites a fire and entraps the men.The real-life deaths of these men, who’ve been called the Navy SEALs of firefighting, is how many people still think most firefighters die. But a surplus of new evidence shows that it’s not just the flames themselves or the inhalation of smoke that’s taking our firefighters in historically large numbers.It’s the toxic and often carcinogenic soot that’s left behind on the fire gear and the firefighters themselves.In fact, neither heart disease nor lung disease is the number one killer of firefighters in 2017.It’s cancer.And it’s largely because fires have gotten far more toxic in the past 25 years.~snip

    The list of cancers in Oregon that are presumed to be connected to firefighting include testicular, lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, lung, brain, breast, and colorectal.

    ~snip

    Joseph Finn, the fire commissioner and head of the Boston Fire Department, said the increasing cancer danger is because of the plastics that are so commonly found now in most structures, as well as the fire retardants used on furniture and other things found in homes and offices.“Almost everything in modern buildings today is made of processed plastic. And it burns very hot and fast and gives off more carcinogenic by-product than traditional fires did in years gone by,” Finn told Healthline.This has led to a national and global cancer crisis among firefighters, he said.
    https://www.healthline.com/health-ne...firefighters#8

    Cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

    Given the importance of firefighting services in everyone's lives, if something isn't done to make a career as a firefighter, not either an automatic death sentence or at the very least a guarantee of future cancer treatment, it is imperative that the forces of technology be marshaled to ensure that firefighters have the best equipment that can be designed to protect their lives. The linked article notes that cancer caused 70 percent of line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016.
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

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    Of course its not just firefighters. I mean, its a good article that you link to, I'm not critical of shedding a light on the topic. But many occupations contain hazards greater than average. Sewer workers are actually subject to greater rates of disease. They are under the category of what is sometimes called '3D' jobs dirty, dangerous and/or demeaning.

    https://www.econlib.org/from-sewer-w...-literary-men/
    Last edited by Newpublius; 01-15-2020 at 08:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Who View Post
    It’s not the flames or even the smoke. It’s the toxins that escape during a fire that are causing high cancer rates among the nation’s firefighters...
    That does seem to be quite obvious to most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newpublius View Post
    Of course its not just firefighters. I mean, its a good article that you link to, I'm not critical of shedding a light on the topic. But many occupations contain hazards greater than average. Sewer workers are actually subject to greater rates of disease. They are under the category of what is sometimes called '3D' jobs dirty, dangerous and/or demeaning.

    https://www.econlib.org/from-sewer-w...-literary-men/
    I mention firefighters because it's a growing issue that is being exacerbated by the toxicity of burning plastics. On a personal note, my former neighbor's father, a retired fireman and absolutely lovely man, died before his 65th birthday of cancer as a result of his career and now my nephew wants to become a firefighter. I fear for him.

    Cancer among firefighters has long been an issue, but when 70% of firefighters are now likely to develop cancer, it's not a career that young people who are informed about the stats should find attractive, if something doesn't change. I agree that many jobs that people do in public service are dangerous. Even garbage collection is a dangerous occupation and people should be protected from harm while doing those jobs. Cancer, however, is just such a painful and miserable outcome that can finacially bankrupt those trying to survive it, emotionally bankrupt families dealing with it and often a pretty slow and painful way to die.

    In any field of endeavor, people should not be put in harm's way without having the best tools available to them to avoid almost certain illness or death.
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

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    They need to keep their protective gear on, get decaminated, and then take it once the job is done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahuyaman View Post
    That does seem to be quite obvious to most.
    I doubt that most people are aware that our plastic laden environment is far more toxic when it burns than that of our parent's environment. Few would even be aware that the toxins in plastics fires can be absorbed through the skin. In the past, firefighters who didn't wear masks and repeatedly suffered smoke inhalation developed cardiac issues and cancer. Now, they all wear masks and breathing devices, but the toxins in the smoke coat their exposed skin and seep in under their clothing. By the time that they are able to wash it off, the damage is already done.
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter1469 View Post
    They need to keep their protective gear on, get decaminated, and then take it once the job is done.
    The protective gear isn't sufficient. They need head to toe body suits that don't allow any smoke to seep under their clothing and touch their skin. Yes, they still need to decontaminate, but the gear needs improvement. At the same time, we also can't just add more layers of stifling clothing such that firefighters start dropping from the inability to cool off.
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Who View Post
    I doubt that most people are aware that our plastic laden environment is far more toxic when it burns than that of our parent's environment. Few would even be aware that the toxins in plastics fires can be absorbed through the skin. In the past, firefighters who didn't wear masks and repeatedly suffered smoke inhalation developed cardiac issues and cancer. Now, they all wear masks and breathing devices, but the toxins in the smoke coat their exposed skin and seep in under their clothing. By the time that they are able to wash it off, the damage is already done.
    I think most people are quite aware if the health risks of various dangerous occupations. Especially those where people are exposed to toxic fumes on a regular basis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahuyaman View Post
    I think most people are quite aware if the health risks of various dangerous occupations. Especially those where people are exposed to toxic fumes on a regular basis.
    You have a much higher opinion of the state of education than I do. I'm surprised more people don't die daily based on the stupid things they do. Granted I see the results of stupid activities all the time in my work, but even in talking to people, it's astonishing what they don't know about chemicals and toxicity (among other things), even if they are educated. I can guarantee that most people who buy furniture don't know that most of it is made from some form of particle board and that if it gets wet (i.e. soaked), it's a toxic waste site that can cause significant lung issues to anyone remaining in that environment.
    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Who View Post
    You have a much higher opinion of the state of education than I do. I'm surprised more people don't die daily based on the stupid things they do. Granted I see the results of stupid activities all the time in my work, but even in talking to people, it's astonishing what they don't know about chemicals and toxicity (among other things), even if they are educated. I can guarantee that most people who buy furniture don't know that most of it is made from some form of particle board and that if it gets wet (i.e. soaked), it's a toxic waste site that can cause significant lung issues to anyone remaining in that environment.
    Fire fighting and doing stupid things are two different things.

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