Cancer is becoming something that the fire service is starting to become more aware of. As we watch more and more of our brothers and sisters battle this deadly disease, we start to wonder about our risks of getting cancer and the job we do as firefighters. More and more states are starting to look at presumptive bills, while some political pundits say there isn't any correlation.
What are your thoughts?
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FDNY cancer up post-9/11
By SALLY GOLDENBERG and SUSAN EDELMAN
Last Updated: 9:29 AM, April 3, 2011
Posted: 1:58 AM, April 3, 2011
A city official for the first time is revealing a rise in cancer among firefighters who served at Ground Zero, The Post has learned.
Dr. David Prezant, the Fire Department's chief medical officer, has found that firefighters who dug for victims at the World Trade Center are getting cancer at a higher rate than firefighters before 9/11 -- and some types of cancer are "bizarrely off the charts," say sources briefed on the seven-year, federally funded study.
Prezant discussed the findings with members of a WTC medical-monitoring committee last month, several attendees said.
He has not yet disclosed the data, but sources say he has cited unusual rises in three blood cancers -- leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma -- as well as esophageal, prostate and thyroid cancers.
The bombshell report, planned for publication around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, would be the first to document a cancer-rate increase among rescue and recovery workers.
The city recently settled lawsuits by 10,000 WTC workers, more than 600 with cancer.
But officials have so far insisted there is no scientific proof that Ground Zero smoke and dust caused cancer.
An FDNY spokesman gave a statement for Prezant, saying, "The study is ongoing, and no conclusions have been reached on whether cancer rates have increased for firefighters."
But three who attended the March 2 steering-committee meeting told The Post that Prezant reported otherwise.
"The only conclusion that could have been reached was that there was an increase in the cancer rate for firefighters after 9/11," one said.
Minutes of the meeting quote Prezant as saying that "we have completed our seven-year cancer study" and that he planned to present it to the fire unions, FDNY brass and Mayor Bloomberg's office.
A doctor from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health asked Prezant, "In the past, you mentioned about the rates before being somewhat similar -- what led to the change that you noted the increase?"
Prezant said researchers have compiled medical records for three years and had access to state cancer registries, though New York's is three years behind. "Those things keep adding cases," he told the group.
Al Hagan, head of the fire-officers union, said he's alarmed.
"I'm led to believe that the numbers for those cancers across all ranks in the Fire Department of people who worked at Ground Zero is up significantly, and we're all very concerned about it, as are our families," he said.
Steve Cassidy, president of the firefighters union, said Ground Zero's "toxic stew" has proven lethal.
"It's a fact that New York City firefighters are dying of cancer in record numbers," he said. "We have buried 10 firefighters in just the last 15 weeks, seven with cancer. On Sept. 10, 2001, they were young, healthy firefighters."
FDNY Lt. Randy Wiebicke of Ladder Co. 1, who raced to the Twin Towers after the attacks, died March 2 from an aggressive form of multiple myeloma.
"I've seen so many firemen and cops at the hospital," said his widow, Madeline.
She said Wiebicke worked nonstop the first few days on the WTC pile and at least two 24-hour shifts a week for months.
"He came home with his gear, car and everything covered in gray dust," she recalled.
In 2007, doctors at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, which monitors WTC responders other than FDNY, noted blood cancers like multiple myeloma, which normally strikes in the 60s or 70s, among relatively young cops.
The state Health Department has confirmed that 345 Ground Zero workers have died of various cancers as of last June.
The state Health Department is studying 345 cancer deaths of 9/11 responders as of June 2010. A breakdown of the most common cancers and the number of deaths attributed to them:
Structure fires, car fires, anything fires.. A fire produces products of decomposition which in typically includes organic vapors, mists, aldehydes, ketones, organic hydrocarbons, and tons of other things that burn, decompose and cruise around in the smoke or off gased materials that we breath, ingest, absorb through our skin or if we are stupid enough to be chewing gum, tobacco or anything oral can ingest products that collectively, dependent upon the products can result in cancer(S).
This is why we do not allow ANY exposed skin, wear SCBA's, especially during mop up / salvage operations. This is when the exposures are the worst.
How do you know you've been dosed? How many days after the incident do you still smell the smoke coming out of your pores? You've been dosed... and it takes 20-30 years for the results.
Not sure what states you are polling, but most are extending the years of service to make retirement, and many are trying or have fought off presumptive CA bills. The fire service is not getting in tune with cancer, they have dealt with the issue for years with lung CA due to the lack of SCBA useage in the 70-80's. Most retirement systems were designed on short years of work and retirment at an early age due to the short life expectancy of the brother. Statistics back then had firefighter only enjoying or suffereing 5 years post retirement before death.
But now we are starting to see other types of cancer, for which not many in my opinion "are in tune with" because our PPE is not protecting us from absorbtion route. You shouldn't smell the fire for 3-4 days every time you take a hot shower and open up all those contaminated pores.
We fight fires in a hazardous material environment, but without the proper hazmat suit. Plastics and synthetics are slowly killing us everytime we respond to a job.
But hey, politicians think we should have the same retirement as an office worker, with the same time and age as social security rules...
Quote from the NH state house rally this week, a representative returned comment to firefighters who are protesting changes to our retirement AND loosing collective bargaining all slipped into the state budget vote (midnite addendum) with no public hearings...
"You are no better than a sanitation worker, get off your hero horse."