By Miguel Leyva
Photo by Marine Corporal J.R Heins
August 4, 2023 (San Diego) --Working as a firefighter entails numerous dangers, from smoke inhalation to crush injuries from collapsing structures. Still, a more insidious health threat these courageous people face is toxic exposure, as a fire can release many hazardous agents, including carbon monoxide, benzene, asbestos, hydrogen cyanide, particulates, and sulphur dioxide. Even if they wear the maximum feasible protective equipment, firefighters are inevitably exposed to these substances to a significant extent. Because of occupational toxic exposure, cancer is the leading cause of death in firefighters. They have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% greater risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.
Unfortunately, military firefighters are no exception, as they encounter the same health hazards on the job, if not more.