UCLan research could help reduce risk of cancers among fire fighters

UCLan's Prof Anna Stec
UCLan's Prof Anna Stec
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Pioneering research by Preston academics has led to a renewed calls for better protective clothing for fighters.

Studies by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire identified that firefighters’ risk of developing cancer is increased by dangerously high levels of harmful chemicals that remain on their protective clothing - and equipment following exposure to smoke.

The study, initially published in Nature’s Scientific Reports last year, found that skin absorption, rather than inhalation, is firefighters’ leading cause of exposure to cancerous gases created during a fire, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Anna Stec, lead researcher and Professor in Fire Chemistry and Toxicity at UCLan, said at the time: "We have found that contaminated clothing and equipment is causing firefighters to be exposed to alarmingly high amounts of dangerous chemicals, which puts them at a greater risk of cancer.

"It is time for change. If this level of toxic exposure was found in the US or Canada, government would put measures in place to monitor the health of firefighters and address this.

" Neither exposure to toxic gases nor their long-term effects on the health are officially monitored in the UK."

Now renewed calls for better protection will be highlighted as a result of the study in a BBC Inside Out programme tonight.