Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2016 aims to examine cancer risk linked to the job

23 Mar 2016 by under Legal

firefighters at WTC site 100x100 Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2016 aims to examine cancer risk linked to the jobThe link between firefighting and certain forms of may not be something you’ve considered, but it is definitely relevant to those working to keep the U.S. safe. That’s why Rep. Richard L. Hanna, (R-NY) introduced a new federal bill to help better our nation’s understanding of the incidence of various cancers in firefighters by developing “a voluntary patient registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters.”

Aptly named the “ Act of 2016,” the proposed bill would put the Health and Human Services Secretary in charge of maintaining the registry of firefighters with cancer diagnosis. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Since the 1990s, several studies have linked the firefighting profession to an increased risk of cancer, but no nationwide registry has ever attempted to maintain records to document just how common the occurrence is.

Due to the nature of their profession, firefighters are forced to deal with dangerous elements on a regular basis, such as unsafe chemicals, asbestos, toxic gases and fumes, resultant pyrolysis products and much more. However, the presence of asbestos causes particular concern considering the particles can stick to clothing and follow workers to residential areas and those unprotected by safety equipment. If asbestos particles are inhaled or ingested, it may lead to the development of asbestos-related diseases including asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, one of the deadliest cancers on record.

According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), firefighters are at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma than the average American. Also, after examining 30,000 firefighters over the course of a few years, the study determined a definite link between exposure to firefighting and heightened risks for lung cancer, leukemia and other cancers.

Additionally, past studies note that some of the most common cancers among firefighters include testicular cancer (which impacts male firefighters at a rate 102 percent higher than non-firefighters), stomach cancer, multiple myeloma, and brain cancer, as well as many more.

Cancer registries are not uncommon in certain states that have legalized the collection of cancer diagnoses, demographic information and treatment plans; however, the idea behind this bill would be to focus only on past and current firefighters.

“While these State-based cancer registries undoubtedly contribute to furthering research related to assessing cancer incidence among firefighters, a special purpose national cancer registry would provide researchers and public health agencies with more direct and comprehensive access to the specific set of information they need to conduct more robust, focused, and epidemiologically rigorous research on cancer incidence among firefighters,” the proposed bill reads.

Sources:
Firefighter Nation
Righting Injustice

 

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