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Firefighters Fight for Recognition of Cancers Caused by Workplace Exposure

Photo: Pixabay via Public Domain

Firefighters put their lives on the line to every day, but the dangers they face are not the same dangers faced by firefighters in years past. The smoke that comes from modern fires include particulates from very different materials; plastics, petroleum-based products, and chemical-treated woods. 

According to a recent 10-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, The Centers for Disease Control, and the National Cancer Institute, firefighters showed higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population. Firefighters are twice as likely to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer related to exposure to asbestos.

But if a firefighter is diagnosed with a cancer like this in Florida, it’s up to him or her to prove to the state that it was caused by exposure on the job in order to benefit from worker’s compensation. A bill before the Senate as well as the state House this legislative session would take that burden off firefighters seeking help for themselves or their families by presuming four of these rare types of cancer are caused by workplace exposure, enabling them to seek worker’s compensation.

Thursday at 1:30 p.m.,  Heather Mazurkiewicz with the North Collier Fore Control and Rescue Districtexplains how she came to be a proponent of this bill, and discuss some of the hidden dangers firefighters face every day.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.