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November 14, 2011


Our Firefighters, Our Heroes (Mesothelioma)


by Matthew Phillips

  Being vigilant is hard work, and it’s a huge part of being a firefighter. Yet sometimes their eyes get tired; sometimes their noses get sick of sniffing out potentially dangerous situations.

   But they’re not alone. They don’t have to do it all by themselves. Though not everyone can fight fires, we can all help to fight off impending danger. How? Through information and the knowledge of what may loom ahead.

   Cancer may not seem like an occupational hazard that a firefighter needs to watch out for, but it certainly is. In older buildings and homes, builders used a natural mineral called asbestos. It can still be found in dry wall and in insulation in those homes. Asbestos is fire-resistant, and was supposed to make a lot of homes safer for a lot of people.

  Today, when those homes are disturbed, say… as a firefighter breaks down the walls of a burning building, asbestos fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, they may cause a deadly cancer to attack the lungs: mesothelioma.

   Mesothelioma symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest heaviness. Sound familiar? They should. These symptoms are often confused with other more common, more treatable diseases. Even worse, mesothelioma symptoms are latent, often for up to 50 years. By then, the cancer has spread and treatment is either difficult or impossible.

   The government has taken measures to protect professionals like firefighters, military veterans, and construction and demolition workers from asbestos exposure. Though they passed laws, like 1971′s OSHA, that were supposed to protect those exposed to asbestos, there are still thousands that don’t get the protection they need and deserve.

   So what should we do? Before our firefighters continue to save lives, before they risk their own, find out more about asbestos exposure and the dangers of mesothelioma. Search the web; ask a doctor; visit a library. There are resources designed to provide us with what we need to know.

   Our firefighters have always protected us. It’s our turn to protect them.
Copyright Matthew Phillips. All rights reserved.

Also visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
(the web’s leading resource for those affected by asbestos cancer)

About the Author: Matt Phillips is a student at the University of Central Florida. Matthew’s passion for writing has given him a voice as a health advocate firefighters because members of his family are in fire service. Please feel free to contact Matthew with questions or encouragement for his endeavors. Contact Matt

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 6 2014

    I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your blog.
    It seems like some of the text within your content are
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    • Apr 7 2014

      I have not had anyone else share this problem, I do not have it on either of my two laptops or on my iPad. Have your computer check out and if it continues let me know and I will research it more on my end.

      Peggy Sweeney, Editor


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