President Donald Trump has signed into law the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, designed to centralize data into a registry to help firefighters and medical professionals understand the links between cancer and firefighting in an attempt to reduce firefighters’ cancer risk and identify better treatment options.
Firefighters come in contact with hazardous chemicals and materials, including benzene, asbestos and diesel exhaust. Benzene is a commonly used chemical that has been linked to adverse events. Long-term exposure to benzene has been linked to leukemia. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was commonly used until the 1980s in building materials including insulation. Asbestos exposure can lead to the incurable lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or other internal organs.
Cancer is the third leading cause of death among firefighters, according to the International Association of Firefighters.
The law will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and maintain a voluntary database that contains information about certain cancers in firefighters. The goal of the registry is to give researchers a better understanding of the risks of smoke inhalation and other occupational hazards that impact firefighters.
“The brave men and women who selflessly keep our communities safe while fighting fires deserve for us to do everything in our power to also keep them out of harm’s way while they are on duty,” said Congressman Chris Collins, who along with Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr., wrote the legislation. “We currently have a lack of information about how being exposed to certain fires will impact a firefighter’s health, and this is a common sense way to collect that data to improve protocols and equipment. I express my deepest gratitude for our nation’s firefighters and first responders, and take pride in knowing that this registry could lead to reforms that will save lives.”
Source: Livingston County News