A recent study of almost 30,000 firefighters in three metropolitan cities across the United States found that they were two times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the rest of the United States’ population. The study was conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of California at Davis. The study was published in the October 14, 2013 edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Researchers examined the medical and death records of 29,993 Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago firefighters who were employed between 1950 and 2009. The study focused on firefighters who had been diagnosed with cancer, or had died from cancer. The study concluded that cancer of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems accounted for the highest rates of cancer among those studied. Researchers noted that these cancers were most likely related to exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products.
It has long been suspected that mesothelioma and other cancers were more common among firefighters than in other areas of the U.S. population. The recent NIOSH data supports this theory with undeniable evidence. Firefighters must constantly battle exposure to cancer-causing agents such as asbestos, benzene, and formaldehyde that are released when materials containing these substances burn.
Exposure to asbestos is directly related to mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are well known insulators and were commonly used in the construction of buildings and structures throughout the 20th century. When these buildings burn or collapse, firefighters can inhale the toxic fibers. Once in the lungs, the fibers can lay dormant for 20 to 50 years before the first signs mesothelioma become apparent. Once diagnosed, victims of mesothelioma and asbestosis usually succumb to the disease within the first year.
The NIOSH study did not consider factors such as on the job exposure, smoking habits, or other risky behaviors and conditions that may account for some of the cancers associated with firefighters. The second phase of the study is expected to focus on the on-the-job risks that firefighter’s face, and their possible relationship to the increased risk of cancer among this population.
The asbestos attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler in Philadelphia have been fighting for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases for 30 years. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease related to asbestos exposure, call Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler at 215-569-4000 or submit an online inquiry to schedule a free consultation. We will review the details of your case and prepare the best legal strategy to claim the justice and compensation you deserve.