The North Carolina Insurance Commissioner has released a report revealing that malignant mesothelioma is one of the most prevalent types of cancer suffered by that state’s firefighters. The information, gathered as part of a voluntary cancer registry within the Office of State Fire Marshall, underscores the continuing threat posed by asbestos in homes and buildings throughout the United States.
Asbestos “In Place” Continues to Pose Risk of Malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Though the disease is most commonly diagnosed in veterans of America’s Armed Forces and those who worked in close proximity to asbestos, it is also a risk for others. Victims have included women whose loved ones worked in those environments, those who lived near mines or asbestos-contaminated sites, people who used asbestos-contaminated talc products, and people who have been exposed to asbestos “in place” that has been disturbed.
Asbestos “in place” refers to situations where the mineral was used as insulation or some other component of a building or infrastructure. When it breaks down with age or is disturbed by construction, fire, or a natural disaster, the fibers become airborne and easily inhaled, and that can lead to malignant mesothelioma. Firefighters are at particular risk for asbestos that is disturbed while they are battling a fire.
Firefighter Risks for Mesothelioma
When a firefighter enters a building that has asbestos in place, the risk of mesothelioma comes from both airborne particles and fibers that may adhere to their clothing or equipment and later be carried into their firetrucks, their stations, or even their homes. Making the situation worse is the fact that some older fire stations may also have been constructed using asbestos, increasing the risk of exposure.
In 2013, the United States Fire Administration collaborated with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a study on the incidence of cancers like mesothelioma in firefighters. They found that respiratory cancers were the most common type identified in firefighters, and the North Carolina study confirms this. Speaking of the study’s results, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal, said, “We know firefighters and first responders are at greater risk of getting cancer as a result of their dangerous jobs. We just don’t know how serious the problem is. With the data collected through the cancer registry, we plan to give legislators and other officials more solid information so they can help protect the firefighters and first responders who protect their communities.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, help is available. For information contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.