Firefighters are at greater risk than the general public of developing cancer because they often come in contact with carcinogenic fumes, like benzene which can cause blood cancers like acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and materials like asbestos that can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs like the lungs.
In an effort to reduce this risk among firefighters, the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center distributed 4,000 decontamination kits to fire departments across the state. Up to 85 percent of the soot can be removed from the firefighter’s gear by using the special suits.
The suits are intended to be worn during a fire call. Before the suits are removed, another fireman washes off the jacket, pants, hoods and helmets with water and dish soap. Once the suit has been washed, the firefighter removes it and cleans his face, neck, and hands with baby wipes. Once back at the station, the firefighter should take a full shower and, if there is time, his gear is also washed.
The process may be tedious, but could be life-saving in the long run. Cancers from toxic materials and chemicals like asbestos and benzene can take years to develop. Mesothelioma, for one can take up to 50 years to present after exposure to asbestos.
Capt. Casey Dasher, a firefighter in Winter Haven, Florida, was grateful for the donation. “When you look at how many particles (the decontamination suit) takes off you – that you didn’t even realize were on you – it’s amazing,” he told Fox13 News.
Source: Fox13 News