Working as a North Carolina firefighter places you at high risk for a work-related illness or injury. The physical act of fighting fires heightens your injury risks. However, you also face hazards related to exposure to harmful or toxic substances. Some of the substances you may come in regular contact with as a firefighter are carcinogens, meaning they raise your risk of developing cancer.
Per the National Fire Protection Association, two large-scale studies about cancer risks among firefighters have revealed troubling information about your work-related cancer risks.
Cancer statistics among firefighters
The two studies showed that you are 9% more likely than members of the general public to develop work-related cancer when you earn your living working as a firefighter. You are also 14% more likely to die from work-related cancer than members of the general population.
Safety protocols for firefighters
While you may not be able to cut your cancer risks completely, there are some steps you might take to lower your chances of developing work-related cancer. An important step involves laundering your gear and protective equipment after every use to remove any contaminants. You should also take care not to leave your gear in the same room where you sleep. Other equipment used in firefighting, such as hoses and hand tools, may also undergo contamination. So, taking additional steps to slow the spread of these contaminants is also important.
Health professionals are conducting an ongoing, 30-year study on the link between firefighting and cancer with the hope of lowering the number of firefighters who suffer from work-related cancer.