Designing safer fire stations to help prevent cancer in firefighters

Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), GI (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine), and kidney cancers account for much of the higher risk.

According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, some fire departments are addressing higher than average occupational cancer rates. For example, 32 percent of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s (MDFR) active members were diagnosed with cancer or receiving treatment between 2008 and 2010.

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