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IARC Monographs evaluate the carcinogenicity of occupational exposure as a firefighter

July 7, 2022 
By FFIC Staff

July 7, 2022, Lyon, France – The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has evaluated the carcinogenicity of occupational exposure for firefighters.

The agency uses a scale, or groups, to evaluate the level of certainty that an agent can cause cancer, with Group 1 being the highest level and Group 3 being the lowest.

By reviewing available scientific literature, the agency’s Monographs Working Group classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as carcinogenic in Group 1.

There was sufficient evidence for mesothelioma and bladder cancer, limited evidence for colon, prostate and testicular cancer, as well as melanoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, when looking at cancer types in firefighters.


There was also strong evidence that occupational exposure in firefighters is toxic to DNA, induces epigenetic alterations, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation.

Since the previous classification of firefighting as Group 2B — or possibly carcinogenic —  by the agency in 2007, many new studies have investigated the association between occupational exposure as a firefighter and cancer risk in humans.

A total of 52 case-control studies, 12 case reports, and 7 meta-analyses were considered in the new evaluation.

A summary of the final evaluation has been published in the Lancet Oncology.

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