What you should know about your turnout gear and cancer.

The Danger Doesn’t Stop When The Fire Is Out.

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Years of research have clearly documented firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens in all phases of fire response, including overhaul. Recent studies have also explored the combustion of all the new synthetic products present in homes, cars and factories.

It is important to note that carcinogen exposure does not require visible smoke. Chronic exposure to heat, smoke and toxicants puts firefighters at higher risk for developing cancer when compared to non-firefighters.

On The Scene

When responding, firefighters are constantly exposed to carcinogens. A wide range of chemicals have been detected in smoke and soot during fire suppression and overhaul. These contaminants completely penetrate personal protective equipment (PPE) and the gear you use on a fire. And they remain there until washed off.

Back At The House

Contaminants that firefighters encounter during fire responses can be tracked back to the fire stations. These lingering contaminants can lead to additional exposures if firefighters do not perform preliminary exposure reduction – these contaminants can spread to the apparatus’ cab and back to the fire station.

The List

From SVOC to PFAS, the list of carcinogens and other toxins firefighters are exposed to on the job is long and terrible. Through lab testing, our liquid CO2 process has been proven to dramatically reduce all of these. This list was compiled by NFPA, EPA and other organizations.

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Cancers of the skin, lung, and liver.
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Cancers of the lung, larynx, and mesothelioma.
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Cancers of the lung, bladder, and skin.
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1,3 Butadiene

Blood cancers.
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Lung cancer.
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Nasopharyngeal cancer.
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(gamma activity)

All cancer sites combined.
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(alpha & beta emitting)

All cancer sites combined.
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Lung cancer.
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Sulfuric acid

Laryngeal cancer.
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Lung cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sarcoma; all cancer sites combined.

Is there any wonder that in 2022 the IARC classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as “carcinogenic to humans”?

How To Fight Safely

But there is something you can do to fight the effects of carcinogens on the job. To protect yourself from exposure, the following actions are recommended: Following these steps is the safest way to fight fires.

Use SCBA from initial attack through overhaul.

Not wearing SCBA in both active and postfire environments is the most dangerous voluntary activity in the fire service today.
Perform on-scene gross decontamination on PPE.

Perform on-scene gross decontamination on PPE to remove as much soot and particulates as possible. Wet decon is the most effective on-scene.
Use wet wipes to remove as much soot as possible.

Clean your head, neck, jaw, throat, underarms, hands, and all exposed areas of skin immediately and while on the scene for firefighter cancer prevention.
Bag contaminated gear on-scene.

Store them in an outside compartment. Never in the cab.
Change clothes & wash them immediately after a fire.

If possible, for firefighter cancer prevention, have a change of clothing in a personal bag.
Shower thoroughly after a fire.
Get your turnout gear thoroughly cleaned using our patented liquid CO2 process.

    Following these steps is the safest way to fight fires.