Toledo firefighters participate in research study to help prevent cancer in other firefighters

Toledo firefighters participate in research study to help prevent cancer in other firefighters

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - There are 35 Toledo firefighters that have agreed to take part in a study being conducted by the Ohio State University.

Researchers are taking blood, skin and urine samples from them to learn why firefighters have an increased risk for cancer and what is causing it.

Captain Matthew Brixey with TFD said a lot has changed since he began his career. Those changes are helping to prevent cancer for firefighters.

"It use to be a badge of courage. We would say that  if you had dirty gear or a dirty helmet, but now that could be very well what is killing us," said Brixey.

Firefighters are now instructed to shower after a fire. Every firehouse in Toledo has an extractor to wash turnout gear. TFD now has two full sets of gear to ensure gear gets clean before their next run.

But while Prevention is one thing, a new study at Ohio State University funded by the Bureau of Workers Compensation, is looking at the compounds firefighters absorb into their bodies and blood streams during a fire .

"This is the first study in the state of Ohio that is looking for certain common compounds that are found in every day items that will turn up in fires and stations and buildings. So they are actually able to isolate if these compounds are found in our blood before and after a fire," explained Brixey.

Of the 35 TFD members being tested, six firefighters will then be tested after battling a fire.  Blood, urine and a skin swab will be collected right after the fire, six hours later and then 24 hours after the fire.  Allowing researchers to see how long these compounds remain in firefighters bodies.

"This is something pretty cool for all firefighters across the country it may be too late for some of us, but for the new generation coming on, it's going to provide them with some valuable information to get them through their career and retirement," Brixey said.

Now TFD's involvement for this portion of the study will be complete as soon as the six firefighters are tested after fighting a fire.

OSU researchers may also look at the long term effects of these compounds as well.  So the firefighters tested could be called up again in the future.

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