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Firefighters and Asbestos Exposure

New York firefighters are ready at a moment’s notice to save lives even if it involves risking your own.But you shouldn’t have your health harmed by a preventable hazard – like deadly asbestos fibers.

Federal work safety researchers are currently conducting major research on whether firefighters have a higher risk of cancer, as has long been suspected.  One of the major causes of cancer that firefighters face is asbestos, which causes a respiratory cancer known as mesothelioma. Older houses, commercial buildings and boilers all contain asbestos insulation and building materials. The damage to a house or structure during a fire can release asbestos fibers into air, allowing the toxic fibers to be inhaled.

Information About Mesothelioma Risk for Firefighters

  • Ways that Firefighters are Exposed to Asbestos on the Job – Firefighters are at risk of exposure to asbestos from a variety of sources on the job. But firefighters most likely won’t recognize the symptoms of asbestos disease for decades.
  • 9/11 Asbestos Exposure and the FDNY – Asbestos was used to insulate the lower half of the first World Trade Center tower. A pattern has emerged of negative health effects among firefighters who responded to 9/11. That pattern persuaded a medical advisory panel in 2012 to recommend adding mesothelioma to the list of cancers and diseases for which firefighters and first responders should receive compensation and treatment.
  • Old Fire Houses and Asbestos – The renovation and remodeling of older fire halls and boiler rooms can expose firefighters to cancer-causing asbestos fibers if the work is not conducted properly.
  • Firefighters’ Turnout Gear and Asbestos – Firefighters’ protective gear, such as helmets, gloves and pumps, no longer contains asbestos as it once did. But firefighters may have their turnout gear coated with toxic asbestos dust while battling a fire or moving about in a fire-damaged structure.
  • Arson Investigators and Asbestos Exposure – As part of a fire scene investigation, arson investigators spend hours at a fire scene, identifying and preserving evidence of arson. When a blaze occurs in an older house or building, there is a chance that the structure contains asbestos materials such as asbestos insulation, asbestos floor coverings and asbestos pipe wrap.
  • Firefighters’ Families and Secondhand Exposure to Asbestos – Older building materials and boilers encountered during the course of fighting a fire may contain asbestos. Firefighters can carry asbestos dust into their homes, exposing their families to dangerous asbestos fibers.