Approximately 10 years ago the global firefighting community started to identify a link between firefighting and occupational cancer.

Since then, significant global research by academic institutions has validated that firefighters develop cancer much earlier and up to double the rate of the general public. Research also indicates that firefighter cancers are much more aggressive and come with a higher mortality rate.

It’s a fact that firefighting is becoming increasingly dangerous for firefighters and not from increased fire incidents but from exposure to a toxic mix of carcinogens.

The fact is that every fire is now a Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) incident for firefighters. Click here for References.

The truth about what Firefighters are really facing…

Fires today grow at a significantly faster rate than fires of yesteryear and expose firefighters to a wider range of carcinogens at increased concentration.

Included in this toxic mix are: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have been linked to skin, lung, bladder, liver, and stomach cancers. Organophospahte Flame Retardents (OPFRs) some of which have been linked to papillary thyroid cancer. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are known to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic and have become strictly regulated although they remain in consumer goods and buildings that were manufactured before their regulation.

Modern residential fires have an increased toxic mix of carcinogens due to the significant amount of plastic and synthetic materials used in construction today. Flame retardants including PBDEs and OPFRs are used in a wide range of consumer products to slow the development of a fire, but are also inadvertently released during combustion.

Due to their carcinogenicity and genotoxicity, occupational exposure to PAHs are recognised throughout the world by government bodies as being cancer causing.

The following list of Government bodies have recognised and documented the occupational risks associated with exposure to carcinogenic PAHs.

European Union

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

US Environmental Protection Agency

European Commission

US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Department of Environment and Energy

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

Safe Work Australia

Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists

The World Health Organisation now lists firefighting as an occupation with a high carcinogenic risk.

DEKONMATE® Decontamination Products assist with reducing the potential for dermal absorption and off-gassing of PAHs, flame retardants and metals by firefighters.