Firefighters at higher risk for many cancers including mesothelioma

Firefighters at higher risk for many cancers including mesothelioma

When the alarm sounds, they don’t think about the dangers ahead or their possible loss of life. Firefighters immediately react, placing the lives of those in peril ahead of their own. They charge into burning buildings with one goal in mind, not pausing to consider the longterm effects.

Unfortunately for these heroes, the risks still exist.

During the past few years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted the largest study of firefighters ever completed. More than 30,000 men and women were evaluated to determine the cancer rates among the profession. The CDC concluded firefighters are more likely to develop cancer of the respiratory, urinary and digestive systems than others.

Even more unsettling- of all the known cases of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lungs and surrounding tissues, those found in firefighters account for double.

Materials intended to be flame-retardants often include toxic chemicals, causing those battling the flames to be exposed to multiple dangers with each fire. Before the 1980s, many homes and buildings used asbestos in their construction.

Asbestos, a known carcinogen and primary cause of mesothelioma, was frequently used in the early to mid 1900s because of its flame-resistant and insulating abilities. Even though the substance isn’t used in construction any more, the substance remains in old structures, still found in vinyl, furnace door gaskets, roofing materials, shingles and pipe/duct insulation.

As a fire grows, the heat can cause certain items to break, releasing the asbestos fibers into the air. Additionally, as firefighters work through a flaming building, breaking down walls, the fibers are spread at a rapid rate.

Mesothelioma kills with most victims living less than a year after diagnosis. If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis as a result, contact us immediately. We want to help.


CDC. (2013). Cancer: Study of cancer among US firefighters. Workplace Safety & Health Topics. [Link]

Coyle, M. (2014). Study: firefighters have higher rates of cancer. USA Today. [Link]

Schriro, D.B. (2014). Asbestos and firefighters. Department of Emergency Services. [Link]


Related Posts

U.S. Steel Fined $700,000…

U.S. Steel Fined $700,000 for Air Pollution For the third time in less than a year, the Allegheny County Health Department has fined U.S. Steel for excessive air pollution. It…
Read more

Asbestos Manufacturer Liability Redefined…

Asbestos Manufacturer Liability Redefined by Supreme Court The Supreme Court has redefined the liability of a company under general maritime law for asbestos-related injuries caused by third party integrated parts.…
Read more

Mon Valley Residents Upset…

Mon Valley Residents Upset About Fracking Site in Their Community A proposed fracking site near U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson mill is causing problems for nearby residents. They have written two…
Read more


  • Never Pay a Fee Unless We Win Your Case!