It is a common story among firefighters, who are exposed to harmful toxins on the job. Most know all too well the price some of their colleagues pay for that exposure.
A growing body of evidence has shown firefighters have an increased risk of cancer and other serious illnesses compared to the general population, partly due to their exposure to hazardous chemicals from the smoke. Ontario introduced so-called presumptive legislation in 2007 to address the reality of firefighters and cancer — the onus was no longer on firefighters and investigators to prove their cancer was work related, but assumed to be. The province initially included eight forms of cancer on that list and has since expanded it.
That reality and the need to understand more clearly what and how firefighters are exposed is what drove Matschke and Ottawa fire officials to seek better information with which to protect themselves.
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