Firefighters do an inherently dangerous job protecting life and property from fire and other disasters. But they also face tremendous unseen dangers such as asbestos exposure while working in older buildings. More and more firefighters have grown concerned about repeat exposure and these are a few of the important frequently asked questions and answers.
How Does Asbestos Threaten Firefighters?
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma cancer. Firefighters are exposed to it when extinguishing fires. Burning asbestos may release fibers into the air that can be breathed into the lungs and make contact with the skin. It’s important to wear protective breathing gear while combating a blaze at all phases.
How Can Asbestos Exposure Be Limited?
The number of malignant mesothelioma cancer victims has risen among firefighters. It’s imperative that first-responders wear protective gear and breathing apparatus during a fire. It’s also important to remove all outerwear and thoroughly wash afterwards. Asbestos fibers can become embedded and transfer at home.
What Other Chemical Dangers Are Present During Fires?
In addition to asbestos, numerous toxic chemicals go airborne during fires. These include:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Hydrogen Cyanide
Such toxins can cause short and long-term illnesses as well as life-threatening health conditions.
Where Can Firefighters Get More Information?
The National Volunteer Firefighters Council provides a wealth of information for firefighters and their families. It can help educate everyone about the dangers of asbestos and other hazards that firefighters face on the job. The U.S. Fire Administration is another excellent resource.
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