It's no secret that cancer in firefighters is on the rise. A recently concluded study by NIOSH showed that firefighters in their study had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and deaths. To read the findings from the study, follow this link. You may have even read articles that seem to have overblown the instances of firefighter cancer. There are many theories as to how to lessen our risk to cancer. These range from entire sets (a 2nd non-fire) of turnout gear for non-fire related activities to hoods with special materials to help keep smoke the skin on our necks and faces. You may also have seen the video from the Indianapolis, IN Fire Dept. where they have installed exercise bikes in a sauna to "sweat it out" after a fire. According to The Firefighter Cancer Support Network, there is a 400% increase in skin absorption for every 5 degrees in temperature increase. Read the document here.
Who knows what, if anything will work to help reduce your risk. While not many departments are able to spend an extra $2000.00 on a 2nd set of gear or $100.00+ on special hoods, one thing that may be beneficial is to decon areas of skin exposure while still at the scene. Simply wiping down your head, face and neck, underarms and groin, could reduce the amount of carcinogens that can be absorbed. These are all friction point areas that have blood vessels close to the skin. They are also areas where you have natural collections of soot and grime.
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