Posted on 12/09/2022 in Fire Safety 2022
Cancer recognised as firefighter health risk

The WHO’s IARC has classified cancer as an exposure risk for firefighters. At an expert meeting 1st July 2022, IARC classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), with sufficient effidence for mesothelioma and bladder cancer and limited evidence for colon cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, melanoma of the skin, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. IARC state that “Firefighters are exposed to a complex mixture of combustion products from fires (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, metals, and particulates), diesel exhaust, building materials (e.g. asbestos), and other hazards (e.g. heat stress, shift work, and ultraviolet and other radiation). In addition, the use of flame retardants in textiles and of persistent organic pollutants (e.g. per- and polyfluorinated substances) in firefighting foams has increased over time.”

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), part of the WHO (World Health Organisation) press release n°317, Lyon, France, 1st July 2022
IARC Monographs – vol. 132 “Carcinogenicity of occupational exposure as a firefighter”, in The Lancet – Oncology, vol. 23, August 2022
“Firefighters four times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer”, IFS (International Fire Safety Journal), 4th July 2022

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