Each of you is well aware that during fire fighting activities our members are exposed to many combustion products that are known carcinogens [including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), formaldehyde, benzene, chromium compounds, dioxins, asbestos, particulates and arsenic]. These exposures have resulted in excessive cancer rates among fire fighters. Unfortunately, disease risk estimates are inconsistent in some of the published studies, primarily due to small cohort size and few person-years at risk and none of the studies have assessed type of fire exposures based on run data and controls (including PPE and other protective measures (or lack thereof).
NIOSH, partnering with the National Cancer Institute with full support from the inception from the IAFF and financial assistance from the US Fire Administration, has embarked on a large scale cancer study. This project is the largest study of fire fighters and cancer experience, which includes the records of over 30,000 fire fighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco – jurisdictions chosen due to availability of complete fire fighter and fire department data as well as full cooperation of our local unions and their fire department.
NIOSH and the study team have now issued a NEWSLETTER summarizing the efforts to date, as well as providing a timeline for completion. Further information can be found on the NIOSH website. Comments and questions can also be sent to Dr. Travis Kubale, the team leader and epidemiologist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course the IAFF will continue to assist with this important NIOSH project.