NIOSH Seeks Firefighters for Cancer Prevention Research

Source: National Park Service

NIOSH is looking for more than 1 million U.S. firefighters to take part in a voluntary registry, as the agency seeks to understand why those in the field are at greater risk for certain cancers.

As S&H reports, NIOSH research shows firefighters have higher rates of digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancer than the general population. They also have nearly twice as many cases of malignant mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer triggered by asbestos exposure.

NIOSH is seeking input on ways to boost participation in the registry, with a goal of more than 1.1 million responses.

The agency published a Request for Information in the March 28 Federal Register.

Enrollment in the registry is expected to begin next year. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018 directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain the registry, which will include career, paid, on-call and volunteer firefighters.

Researchers said they hope participation in the registry will help raise awareness of improved firefighter protections against cancer, including advancements in the design and care of personal protective equipment and practices that can lower firefighters’ exposure to hazardous substances.

Results from a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, show that overall, firefighters had a higher risk for cancers such as

  • Melanoma;
  • Acute myeloid leukemia;
  • Multiple myeloma; and
  • Cancers of the esophagus, prostate, brain, and kidney.

Additionally, black and Hispanic firefighters had a higher risk than white firefighters for:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma;
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia;
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia; and
  • Cancers of the tongue, bladder and testis.

Firefighters are regularly exposed to carcinogens on the job, according to NIOSH.