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Ohio Firefighters Applaud New Law To Track High Cancer Rates

Columbus Division of Fire

President Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill aimed at investigating the high cancer rate among firefighters. The president of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters says it’s needed.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act provides funding for the Centers for Disease Control to track all the fire department cancer cases in the country.

The state of Ohio has joined more than 30 other states that have classified cancer as a work-related illness for those firefighters. A study in Columbus found 1 in 176 residents developed cancer but 1 in 14 of the city’s fire department had the disease.

Ohio firefighters union president Mike Taylor says firefighters are surrounded by a toxic soup of carcinogens, mainly burning chemicals and plastics. He says it’s ironic that one notable problem is the chemical used in flame retardants.

“I know the state of California has outlawed those types of products now being put in furniture and hopefully that will work its way across the rest of the country because they found that that is truly one of the worst things that we’re dealing with at a fire scene," Taylor said.

One of the lead supporters of the Senate bill was Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). He said it would also be helpful to protect workers from the chemicals in the first place.

“We should be doing more here to protect everybody from chemicals in the workplace and in the home," Brown said. "The government has sided far too often with the chemical companies."

Cancer, noted Taylor, is the leading cause of death among active firefighters.

In Ohio, treatments are covered by the Bureau of Workers Compensation.