Firefighting in America is one of the toughest jobs to have. Not only is your life at risk from fire and smoke, but thousands of toxins-including asbestos-pose major threats to your respiratory health as well.
Firefighters risk asbestos exposure every time they respond to a situation in a building or home built before 1990. Once disturbed, construction materials in older structures can release airborne asbestos fibers that pose danger to everyone present. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and firefighters are required to wear protective gear when called to a jobsite.
With heat, sweat, and bulky accessories, not all firefighters manage to keep their protective gear on during a blaze. As structures burn and collapse, the risk of asbestos exposure for firefighters rises. Some of those firefighters first on the scene during the collapse of the World Trade Center towers have already developed serious respiratory illnesses related to the asbestos released into the air that day.
If you have been or currently are a firefighter, you are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease in your lifetime. The latency period of such diseases can take five to fifty years to develop, so alert your doctor today if you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos during your job as a firefighter.
See our Firefighters page for more information about the risk for asbestos exposure as a firefighter.