An International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study has reclassified the occupation of firefighting to the highest hazard category: Group 1, “carcinogenic to humans.” The previous study, conducted by IARC in 2007, had classified firefighting as Group 2B, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Group 1 classification of the firefighting occupation applies to men and women, career and volunteer personnel, and both structural and wildland firefighting occupations around the world.
Although other studies have offered similar conclusions, this new study from IARC — the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) — is notable because:
- The study is very large in scope, integrating findings from 52 cohort and case-control studies, 12 case reports and 7 meta-analyses. The study includes firefighter populations in multiple countries, including the United States, Australia, Norway and others.
- The study successfully links cancer risk to the occupation of firefighting itself using occupational epidemiology (the study of the health of populations of workers).
- The study's findings have many implications for safety policies in the firefighting profession as IARC Monographs are often used as a basis for national and international policies, guidelines, and recommendations to minimize cancer risks.
To learn more about this study, see the information on the IARC website.
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