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The unforeseen consequences of wildfire fighting

You know that your job as a firefighter is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Risking your life and limb every day to save homes, businesses and forests is respectable and honorable as well as hazardous. You and your associates can face immediate dangers resulting from burns and smoke inhalation while fighting California wildfires, but you may not anticipate some of the lesser-known health risks of this industry.

You may be exposed to toxins from smoke and debris for an extended time while fighting wildfires. According to Wildfire Today, studies have shown that firefighters who served 10 years on a project fire crew were 22 to 24 percent more likely to die from contracting lung cancer, ischemic heart disease or cardiovascular disease than they were before joining a crew. After 15 to 20 years, the risks become even more elevated.

Deadly toxins in smoke and their effects

Why is this so, you may wonder? Smoke and airborne particles from wildfires contain numerous toxins that, after prolonged exposure, can have a devastating effect on your health. These toxins include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, crystalline silica and benzene, among others.

The adverse health effects caused by exposure to these toxins can range from skin, eye and lung irritation to breathing difficulties, confusion, memory loss, heart disease, lung deterioration and numerous cancers.

Preventative measures

You might preclude a devastating illness caused by wildfire toxins by having your teams rotate frequently out of areas containing heavy smoke or limiting the length of your active firefighting shifts. It is also important to stay up to date on protective equipment and safety procedures that can reduce your exposure to smoke and airborne particles.

In the same way workers’ compensation can cover you after an injury such as a burn or fracture resulting from a fall, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you develop an illness caused by long-term exposure to smoke and toxins.

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