12.02.16

SCHUMER STANDS WITH WESTERN NEW YORK FIREFIGHTERS AT OLEAN FIRE DEPT 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 WESTERN NY FIREFIGHTERS WOULD BENEFIT

New 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 Says Legislation Could Help Save The Lives Of Our Brave Firefighters Who Put Their Life On The Line Everyday 

Schumer: Our Western NY Firefighters Protect Us, So We Need To Protect Them 

Surrounded by dozens of Western New York area firefighters, and their family members, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major effort to pass 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). The registry would improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer. Schumer said firefighters in Cattaraugus County and across Western NY and the country are exposed to a range of harmful toxins and research has indicated that there may be a connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers such as testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers.

“Our brave firefighters in Olean and across Western New York 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. That is why it so important for Congress to pass this critical legislation to establish a national voluntary 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 to 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. Schumer also noted the timely importance of this bill following the recent massive fire at the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, NY.

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 theFirefighter Cancer Registry Act, S.2799, in the Senate alongside Senator Bob Menendez [D-NJ]. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Richard Hanna in the House of Representatives. Schumer explained that this national firefighter cancer registry would be managed by the CDC and would 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 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.

Schumer was joined by Bill Aiello, Mayor of the City of Olean; Chief Robert Bell, Olean Fire Department; and local firefighters.

“The link between our firefighters and cancer is one that must be broken,” said Robert Bell, Chief of the Olean Fire Department. “This registry will provide us with a great safety tool in helping us to track, treat, and prevent this link that our firefighters face every day, and we appreciate Senator Schumer’s continued advocacy on behalf of those who put their lives on the line every day.”

“I would like to thank Senator Chuck Schumer for coming to Olean’s Central Fire Station, on our newly renovated North Union Street, to push creation of the National Firefighter Cancer Registry,” said Olean Mayor Bill Aiello. “Our firefighters provide an essential, yet hazardous, service to Olean residents and they can be exposed to harmful toxins in the line of duty.  This registry will help physicians track, treat and ultimately prevent cancer which, in turn, will benefit not only our brave firefighters and their families, but also our local taxpayers.”

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