Cancer among firefighters
Most studies show that firefighters are at a clearly higher risk of being diagnosed with various forms of cancer than the average population. Three important studies in the field are considered to be normative LeMasters’ meta-analysis, the Nordic Study and the NIOSH Study. Studies by Professor Anna Stec, Professor of Fire Chemistry and Toxicity at the University of Central Lancashire, show that cancer deaths among firefighters under the age of 75 are up to three times higher than for other citizens in the community.
The reason for the higher risk for firefighters to develop cancer is mainly linked to the exposure to dangerous toxins and carcinogens - mainly PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) which are present in both gaseous form and bound to particles - which occur in fires.
In a 2018 study, Professor Anna Stec and her colleagues at the University of Central Lancashire examined the link between PAH exposure and the increased risk of cancer in firefighters. This study clearly shows increased contamination of carcinogenic PAHs after firefighting exercises on both firefighters' skin and their protective equipment.
The magazine ”Swedish Firefighter” had an article year 2016 about the “Swedish journey about firefighters and cancer”. In Swedish.
In July 2022, WHO's cancer agency (IARC) classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as carcinogenic to humans according to their highest degree of certainty (Group 1). Read the decision from IARC here.