06.28.18

SCHUMER-BACKED BILL THAT WILL CREATE FIRST-EVER NATIONAL FIREFIGHTER CANCER REGISTRY PASSES CONGRESS; BILL NOW HEADING TO PRESIDENT’S DESK FOR SIGNATURE

Schumer’s Multi-Year Effort To Pass Legislation That Would – For The First Time Ever – Create A National Registry That Will Help Medical Professionals More Effectively Track And Treat Firefighters With Cancer 

Schumer Says Firefighters Are Exposed To A Range Of Harmful Toxins And May Be At Increased Cancer Risk; Senator Says Newly Passed Legislation Will Help Protect The Lives Of Our Brave First Responders In New York And Beyond & Urges The President To Sign The Bill ASAP 

Schumer: New Firefighter Cancer Registry Will Protect Those Risking Their Lives Everyday

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that the U.S House of Representatives has joined the U.S. Senate and passed critical legislation that would, for the first time ever, establish a specialized national firefighters’ cancer registry to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, the registry would improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters, both career, and volunteer. Now that Congress has finalized and passed this critical legislation, Schumer lauded the bill’s passage and called on President Trump to immediately sign it.

“Every day firefighters risk everything to protect communities and families across New York. We owe it to these fearless men and women to ensure that if they get sick, they will be cared for in the same way that they care for us,” said Senator Schumer. “This legislation will help firefighters across the country by establishing the national firefighter cancer registry – allowing researchers to track, treat, and I hope to prevent cancer. I pushed hard this year to get this bill across the finish line, and I’m proud the Senate and House voted unanimously to pass this critical legislation.  I urge President Trump to sign it immediately, so we can get to work protecting those who keep us safe.”

According to a five-year study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, there are twice as many firefighters in the U.S. with malignant mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, when compared to the general population. The same study also found that firefighters have an increased risk of death from lung cancer and leukemia as compared to the general population. 

Schumer explained that firefighters are exposed to a range of harmful toxins when responding to emergency situations, often as a result of the noxious flame retardants and other chemicals that are used in everyday items, from furniture to clothing, and even to children’s toys. Experts and scientists have repeatedly sounded the alarm on the danger of these toxic chemicals because they have been found to cause developmental delays in children from long-term exposure in addition to rare cancers in firefighters when these products burn and the toxins become airborne.

Schumer said research has indicated that there is a strong connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers, including testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers. However, there has never been a long-term registry put in place that could be used to track the potential connections between firefighting and incidences of cancer. Schumer, therefore, said a national firefighter cancer registry is needed, so experts and researchers can more effectively monitor nationwide trends and incidences of cancer among firefighters – both career and volunteer. Schumer said such a registry would help medical professionals more effectively identify and treat cancer in firefighters over the long term.

Specifically, this national firefighter cancer registry would do the following:

First, this registry would compile in one place the epidemiological information submitted by healthcare professionals related to cancer incidence among firefighters.

Second, it would make anonymous data available to public health researchers so that they would have access to the comprehensive datasets that will allow them to expand this groundbreaking research.

Third, this registry would improve our understanding of cancer incidence as the registry grows, which could potentially lead to the development of advanced safety protocols and safeguards for the firefighters on the front lines each day.

Finally, this bill would allow for increased collaboration between the CDC and epidemiologists, public health experts, clinicians and firefighters through regular and consistent consultations to improve the effectiveness and accuracy of the registry. 

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