SCHUMER STANDS WITH AMSTERDAM FIREFIGHTERS TO LAUNCH A MAJOR PUSH TO CREATE FIRST-EVER NATIONAL FIREFIGHTER CANCER REGISTRY; FIREFIGHTERS’ CANCER RISK CAN BE DOUBLE THAT OF OTHERS DUE TO EXPOSURE TO TOXIC CHEMICALS—BUT NO REGISTRY TO TRACK & PREVENT CANCER IN FIREFIGHTERS HAS EVER EXISTED; THOUSANDS OF MOHAWK VALLEY FIREFIGHTERS WOULD BENEFIT
Vital Legislation Would, For The First Time Ever, Create A National Registry That Will Help Medical Professionals More Effectively Track And Treat Firefighters With Cancer; Firefighters Are Exposed To A Range Of Harmful Toxins And May Be At Increased Cancer Risk
Senator Will Say Legislation Could Help Save The Lives Of Our Brave Firefighters Who Put Their Life On The Line Everyday
Schumer Will Spark National Push To Protect NY’s Firefighters By Passing Cancer Registry
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today joined dozens of firefighters from Amsterdam’s fire department to launch a new push to pass critical legislation that would, for the first time ever, establish a specialized national cancer registry to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Schumer said the registry would improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters, both career and volunteer. Schumer said that firefighters in Amsterdam, and across the Mohawk Valley, and the country are uniquely exposed to a range of harmful toxins. Research has indicated that there may be a connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers, such as testicular, colon, prostate, stomach, multiple myeloma, and brain cancers. For a few types of cancer, the risk to firefighters, relative to the broader population, can be more than 200 percent higher. This cancer registry would allow researchers to compare information across a broad population of firefighters and help develop tactics, protective equipment and procedures to reduce the risk of cancer.
“Our brave firefighters here in Amsterdam and across the Capital Region are on the frontlines, risking their lives to protect our communities,” said Senator Schumer. “And now with the ubiquitous presence of complex chemicals in our furniture, clothes, and goods, they are too often exposed to a caustic brew of toxins when fighting fires. These brave men and women are exposed to large amounts of chemicals when fighting industrial fires that are no strangers to mill towns like Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville – and in residential fires, too, due to the extensive presence of potentially harmful chemicals in furniture, clothes, toys and more. When these materials burn, the chemicals are released and interact they can create a real witches brew of toxins that put our firefighters at real exposure risk. That is why it so important for Congress to pass this critical legislation to establish a national firefighter cancer registry, so researchers can better track, treat – and one day prevent – the potential connections between firefighting and cancer.”
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 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.
Therefore, Schumer is pushing legislation that would create this registry, which would help better protect the firefighters who safeguard citizens’ lives day in and day out. Schumer is co-sponsoring the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, S.2799, in the Senate alongside Senator Bob Menendez [D-NJ]. This bipartisan legislation was originally introduced by Congressman Richard Hanna in the House of Representatives. Schumer explained that this national firefighter cancer registry would be managed by the CDC to improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters.
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 groundbreaking research.
- Third, the registry would improve our understanding of cancer incidence, 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.
Schumer was joined by Mayor Michael Villa, Chief Mike Whitty, Mike DeMars, President, Amsterdam Professional Firefighters, and local firefighters.
“My colleagues and I have seen firefighters fall to illnesses – to various types of cancer – at a much higher rate than that of the general public,” said Sam Fresina, President of the New York State Professional Firefighters Association. “We have an obligation to protect the people who protect the public each day. This national registry goes a long way in understanding the alarming health issues and providing that protection.”