SHOP TALK

The following came from “Firefighter Close Calls”. Info on subscribing to this newsletter can be found at the end of the article.
Hey….Please take a look at this article regarding a new very in-depth study that CLEARLY identifies that firefighters are at a greatly increased risk for many cancers. One of the Dr’s who is involved in the study commented that there’s a critical and immediate need for additional protective equipment to help firefighters avoid inhalation and skin exposures to known and suspected occupational carcinogens….And he is right. But there is also a critical and immediate need for all of us to USE AND WEAR the PPE we have now. No exposed skin and breathing SCBA air can go a long way to changing this…we just have to wanna do it…and enforce it….read on:CINCINNATI, Nov. 10 — Firefighters acquire on-the-job elevated risks for a variety of malignancies, according to researchers here. They are significantly more likely to develop multiple myeloma than other workers, and also appear to be at elevated risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancers, Grace LeMasters, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues, reported in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Firefighters have a “possible” elevated risk for several additional cancers, including all including melanoma and other skin cancers, leukemia, plus cancer of the brain, rectum, buccal cavity and oral pharynx, stomach, and colon. “We believe there’s a direct correlation between the chemical exposures firefighters experience on the job and their increased risk for cancer,” said Dr. LeMasters, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics. She and her colleagues conducted a review and meta-analysis of 32 studies, confirming earlier findings that firefighters had an elevated risk for multiple myeloma, as well as probable associations with other cancers. In addition to the hazards inherent to putting out fires, firefighters are frequently exposed to hazardous substances both at the scene of a blaze and in the firehouse, the authors noted. “At the fire scene, firefighters are potentially exposed to various mixtures of particulates, gases, mists, fumes of an organic and/or inorganic nature, and the resultant paralysis products,” they wrote. Firefighters may be exposed to heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals, volatile gases, minerals such as asbestos, and other substances with acute toxic effects, they added. “In some situations, respiratory protection equipment may be inadequate or not felt to be needed, resulting in unrecognized exposure,” they wrote. “At the firehouse where firefighters spend long hours, exposures may occur to complex mixtures that comprise diesel exhaust, particularly if trucks are run in closed houses without adequate outside venting.” Firefighters may also be exposed to particulate matter from building debris, including pulverize cement and glass, Fiberglas, asbestos, silica, heavy metals, soot, or combustion products, they wrote. To determine quantitative and qualitative cancer risks among firefighters, the authors conducted a comprehensive data search using three criteria: pattern of meta-relative risk association, study type, and consistency among studies. They used the criteria to assess whether risks for 21 cancers were probable, possible, or unlikely, following the model developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They identified 32 studies with data on 110,000 firefighters, mostly men, who met their criteria. The studies used either local or national worker records, or local, regional or national population records for comparison. The investigators found that firefighters had a probable risk for multiple myelin, with a summary risk estimate of (95% confidence interval, -). Their risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was 1.51 (95% CI, -), and for prostate cancer was 1.28 (95% CI, 1.15-1.43). In addition, testicular cancer, which was reported in only four of the 32 studies and originally had a “possible” ranking, was upgraded to “probable” because of its high summary risk estimate of 2.02 (95% CI, 1.30-3.13). Cancers deemed to be possibly associated with firefighting included skin cancer (all), melanoma, leukemia, and cancer of the brain, rectum, buccal cavity and oral pharynx, stomach, and colon. “There’s a critical and immediate need for additional protective equipment to help firefighters avoid inhalation and skin exposures to known and suspected occupational carcinogens,” said co-author James Lockey, M.D., also of the University of Cincinnati. “In addition, firefighters should meticulously wash their entire bodies to remove soot and other residues from fires to avoid skin exposure.” The investigators wrote that risk for the four probably-associated cancers may be related to a combination of types of exposure, routes of toxin delivery to target organs, and, indirectly the effects of modulation of biochemical or physiologic pathways. “In anecdotal conversations with firefighters, they report that their skin, including the groin area, is frequently covered with ‘black soot’,” the investigators wrote. “It is noteworthy that testicular cancer had the highest summary risk estimate (2.02) and skin cancer had a summary risk estimate (1.39) higher than prostate (1.28).” The authors noted that the actual risks of cancer among firefighters relative to other populations may be underestimated because of a healthy worker bias. That is, firefighters must meet strict physical criteria to join the service and keep in good physical shape, and they have good health benefits. “The healthy worker bias may be less pronounced, however, for cancer than for conditions such as coronary heart disease,” they wrote. “Furthermore, tobacco is unlikely a contributing factor because cancers known to be associated with smoking such as lung, bladder, and larynx were designated as unlikely and corresponding summary risk estimates were not statistically significant.” The above information by By Neil Osterweil, MedPage Today Staff WriterReviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. More to follow soon,Take Care-BE CAREFUL..protect yourself.BillyGThe Secret List 11-10-06www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com
Posted by Charles Klink
I know most people could care less about Cancer statistics or statistics in general unless they have to do with womens figures, sports scores, or bar games. But I posted this article for a couple of reasons: This is a side of our profession that few people outside of it are even aware of. These aren’t statistics, they are real people. I know some of them. For me it’s close to home. Awareness is critical and while we soldier on day in and day out the city administration has denied our contract including our health benefits. They are tying it up in court and eventually hope to bankrupt our health plan through litigation. It is the very definition of immoral. Firemen suffer unusually high rates of Cancers and other diseases due to exposure to carcinogens as a result of our work. The city does everything in it’s power to make life a living nightmare for us when we get sick and even when we aren’t sick. While we routinely reject the label of Hero as it’s all in a days work, there is such a thing as a days work for a days pay. What’s the going rate for Hero’s? To all my brothers out there, stay safe.
Captainden
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6 Responses to SHOP TALK

  1. Wyatt Earp says:

    According to our illustrious mayor, the going rate for heroes is about 50% less than cities of equal or larger size.

  2. fmragtops says:

    Heroes? You don’t really want to know what the going rate for heroes is. Heroes don’t make in a year what NFL players make in a day.

    Does the city have a law against firemen being politically active? I’ve got to think the endorsement or lack there of from firefighters would make a difference. Then again, you do live in a socialist utopia up there. People on welfare probably don’t understand what you mean when you say you have sucky health care.

  3. Captain Den says:

    Only certain city employees can be politically active, as long as it’s for the correct party. We actually don’t have bad health benefits, when the city actually decides to fund them and not contest them. They also try to contest work related illnesses while ignoring needed safety processes. Ex. diesel emissions cause cancer. The city refuses to install the correct exhaust systems. Instead they bought a cheap system the “Filters” the air. It’s just a game to them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    To be honest I do think about those risks for you guys. My friend is a firefighter, so I worry about everything.

    It is scary and yet, you all still do it. God bless you guys. 🙂

  5. Wyatt Earp says:

    Yeah, Fm, our benefits are pretty good, but they make up for that with lousy pay and inadequate equipment.

  6. fmragtops says:

    I wish some of those I guys I used to work with would your blogs. They just thought they had it bad dealing with politics all the time. At least we had good leadership, good equipment, and lots of training.

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