Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure – Mark Hall, Guest Blogger

Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Firefighters, policemen, emergency medical service workers and all other public servants put their lives at risk each day to protect and serve their local residents. For firefighters, certain risks and hazards exist that are often unknown, unseen and unexpected. One such risk is asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring yet hazardous mineral that is found in thousands of industrial materials and products used in homes, buildings and consumer items. When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, asbestos fibers become airborne and are easily inhaled because they are microscopic.

Exposure to this material has been linked to respiratory diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer, often taking years to develop. Those who work around asbestos for many years are most at risk of developing a related disease. As a result of the duties associated with their work, firefighters are put at a higher risk of interacting with asbestos. Surprisingly, an exposure risk has even included their protective gear.

How and Where Exposure Occurs

The most intense moments of a firefighter's job involves eliminating fires and rescuing those in danger. When fires occur within homes, buildings and other structures, asbestos-containing materials can get damaged, increasing the likelihood that the fibers will be released.

The following is a list of household products could contain asbestos, endangering firefighters in the event of a fire:

  • Roofing materials
  • Cement
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Wall lining/gaskets
  • Piping material
  • Wiring insulation
  • Refrigerator/freezer
  • Recessed lighting
  • Attic insulation

The same threats from homes are applied to commercial buildings. One of the more well-known instances of asbestos exposure involving firefighters is the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Dust from the destroyed buildings contained asbestos and other hazardous substances. Respiratory issues among public servants continue to linger as a result, including cases of mesothelioma.

Unfortunately for firefighters, the risk of asbestos exposure isn’t just limited to the location of the fire. In some cases, the risk follows them around. Fire equipment contained asbestos in earlier decades because of the material's heat-resistant characteristics. Equipment items included gloves, helmets and coats, all of which are considered staples of the firefighter uniform. Some of these items are still produced with asbestos, so be sure to ask your employer for information on the contents of your protective gear and how to keep the gear in good condition.

Firefighters, in addition to all first-responders, are encouraged to always wear protective gear during any hazardous environment. This should begin with ensuring that safety equipment is free of asbestos. Researching the materials and the manufacturer can help verify the status of the equipment.

Finally, it is highly recommended that all public servants conduct regular health checkups and screening for respiratory disease. Receiving X-Rays and communicating your occupational dangers can help your doctor detect the development of life-changing diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. 

Bio: Mark Hall is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. Between his interests in environmental health and his writing experience, Mark is committed to communicating relevant news and information regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure and breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatments.

1 Comment

1 Trackback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Brotherhood Instructors Blog

We specialize in the basic fundamentals of firefighting. While we believe that hazardous materials, terrorism, emergency medical and the various rescue disciplines are essential parts of the Fire Service, we also think that the basic fundamentals of firefighting have been overlooked in recent years. We are here to help turn that trend in the other direction.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Comments
Lisa
Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure – Mark Hall, Guest Blogger
Being a firefighter must be real tough job, thanks for giving us an insight about the many risks in that field.
2014-01-16 09:04:59
carroll price
Power Saw Decompression Valves – By: Andrew Brassard
Some smaller chainsaws like the Stihl 025 are very hard to start because they are not equipped with a compression relief valve. Anyone who owns one of these saws will probably tell you that it was not as hard to start when new as it became later on. My theory, as to why this happens,…
2013-12-23 18:04:43
Chris Cahoon
Another Rex Tool Modification – By: Andrew Brassard
Andrew, I am looking to have this mod done. The first thing I need to do is purchase a Rex Tool. Do you recommend getting the original Rex and cut the handle of as you have done here or buy the Lil Rex and try to modify that version? Thanks bro, Chris
2013-02-03 15:34:13
Ladders
History of Lock Pulling Tools
I cant believe how quickly things have moved on. Imagine how things will have moved in the next 100 years. wow. Remember cassette tapes... people will be saying.. remember ipads hahaha
2012-09-03 06:12:14
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Lawsuits The Best Asbestos Lawyer
Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure – Mark Hall, Guest Blogger
[...] exposure, ask your doctor about asbestos, cancer and other health complications.Create a video blog Bruce Peters asked: Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of serious health problems late...s, were exposed to asbestos at some point during their occupational history. A number of occupations [...]
2012-08-15 12:36:40

Photos from Past Classes

Visit Our Youtube Channel

Sign up for our Email Newsletters

* indicates required

FireEMS Blogs eNews

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

LATEST FIREFIGHTER NEWS

HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS

LATEST ON FIRE ENGINEERING

FEATURED DISCUSSIONS