Exposure–response relationships for select cancer and non-cancer health outcomes in a cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950–2009)

Report Date: February 2015

Firefighters place themselves at great risk every day; not only to the visible hazards such as fires, structural collapses, explosions, and falls, but also to unseen exposures to harmful substances including carcinogens. These carcinogens can lead to long-term, chronic illnesses that are not well documented. This study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) seeks to help reduce cancer among firefighters by better understanding the relationship between firefighting exposures and the risk for various cancers. It uses a sample of over 30,000 current and retired career firefighters from the San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia Fire Departments and charts their firefighting exposures and health from 1950 to 2009. These results are compared to the general population. Variables such as firefighting assignments, run totals, and run times are used to quantify firefighting exposures. The study found a significant positive correlation between exposure time and lung cancer as well as exposure incidents and leukemia. The results of the study show an association between firefighting exposures and cancer. In addition, this study provides further insight into firefighting exposure dangers and will hopefully lead to increased awareness and precautions to help decrease firefighter cancer in the future.

This manuscript is the second in the NIOSH study. The first manuscript from 2013 can be accessed here. More information on the NIOSH study can be found on their FFcancerstudy page.

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  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

    Each year an average of 100 firefighters in the United States die in the line of duty. To address this continuing national occupational fatality problem, NIOSH conducts independent investigations of firefighter line of duty deaths. This web page provides access to NIOSH investigation reports and other fire fighter safety resources.

Daniels, Robert D, Stephen Bertke, Matthew M Dahm, James H Yiin, Travis L Kubale, Thomas R Hales, Dalsu Baris, Shelia H Zahm, James J Beaumont, Kathleen M Waters, and Lynne E Pinkerton. Exposure–response relationships for select cancer and non-cancer health outcomes in a cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950–2009). Occup Environ Med, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/firefighters/pdfs/Daniels-et-al-(2015).pdf on March 09, 2015.

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