All first responders here in Ohio and elsewhere deserve accolades for putting their lives on the line for the other members of their communities. Firefighters in particular put their lives at risk every time they go into a burning building. They heroically fight the chaos they can see, but the unknown enemies they face could put their health at risk. For instance, some of them could end up suffering from mesothelioma due to the presence of asbestos dust and fibers in a building they go into.
The destructive force of fire releases numerous toxic gases, materials and dust into the air. Firefighters do not have the luxury of simply choosing not to go into a building because of this, which is why they wear protective gear to protect their skin and give them clean air to breath, but that does not always keep them from exposure. When their job is done, some of those toxic materials will go back to the station with them.
Firefighters have an increased risk of many cancers due to exposure to chemicals and substances they encounter while doing their jobs. For instance, the increased risk of contracting mesothelioma — which is a cancer almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure — is 100%. They do not have the luxury of securing the area in which asbestos exists during a fire. If it is present, they will be exposed to it, most often through what lands on their protective gear. When they take off those items, the dust and fibers can transfer to their clothes and skin.
It appears that in recent years, more firefighters are diagnosed with cancers than in the past. Logically, part of that rests in the fact that some cancers, such as mesothelioma, do not manifest themselves for years or decades after the initial exposure. With as many older buildings as there are here in Ohio, the exposure happens more often than anyone would like. The good news is that it may be possible to obtain benefits for this and other cancers even if the diagnosis comes years after exposure to toxic substances.