House passes Firefighter Cancer Registry Act

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The U.S. House of Representatives last month approved legislation creating a specialized national registry to improve research related to cancer incidence among fire fighters.

Studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of several major cancers – including colon, lung, melanoma, mesothelioma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate, rectal, testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancer – as a result of their frequent exposure to a range of harmful toxins.

Unfortunately, studies examining cancer risks among fire fighters have been limited by the availability of important data and relatively small sample sizes that have an underrepresentation of women, minorities, and volunteer fire fighters.

As a result, public health researchers have been unable to fully examine and understand the broader epidemiological cancer trends among fire fighters. A specialized national cancer registry would expand access to vital epidemiological data and improve research outcomes.

The bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931) creates a specialized national registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources they need to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among fire fighters.

The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

“The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will help us learn more about the link between cancer and firefighting. We thank Congress for voting unanimously in favor of this essential legislation and urge the U.S. Senate to follow suit and get this bill to President Donald Trump’s desk as soon as possible,” said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

“Today, most fire fighters who die in the line of duty are not killed by smoke or fire, but rather by the hidden scourge of cancer. There is a proven link between fire fighters’ regular exposure to toxic substances and deadly cancers, including the many fire fighters who are dying after working on that toxic pile after 9/11,” Schaitberger said.

“Still, fire fighters continue to risk their lives, putting themselves in harm’s way, whether at a structure fire, conducting countless swift water rescues along the Gulf Coast after hurricanes or battling raging wildfires in the West. This registry will help us learn more so we can protect these fire fighters on the front lines of their communities.”

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