In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released the results of a multi-year study of 30,000 firefighters to see how prevalent cancer is among first responders. The study found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths, and specifically were most prone to digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, among others. The likelihood of cancer increased with the amount of time spent fighting fires.
Now, politicians are trying to erect a national firefighter cancer registry, which would require the CDC to maintain a voluntary database with documented cases of cancer among firefighters.
Blumenthal believes creating this registry would help the government study the dangers of firefighting, and hopefully advance ways to prevent this.
“Firefighters place their lives at risk every time they rush into a burning building, but it’s not just the immediate threat of fire, smoke, extreme heat and collapsing structures. Firefighters are a greater risk for contracting and dying from certain cancers—a risk that increases each time they respond to a fire,” Blumenthal said in a statement before the meeting in Bridgeport. “Our brave firefighters put their health and safety on the line to protect their communities. We owe it to them to investigate the full scope of risks they face so that we can develop safeguards and measures to protect their lives as they protect ours.”
Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a bill to set up a cancer relief program for firefighters who fall ill from the job and can no longer work.
Read more about the study here.