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Season 3, Episode 203

Firefighters face higher risk of cancer – even from their turnout gear



Guest Name:

Joe Van Haalen

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Des Moines Iowa Professional Firefighters Local 4 President Joe Van Haalen joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the heightened cancer risks firefighters face on-the-job.

Van Haalen appeared on AWF during Fire Prevention Week, which occurs from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15.

He explained that firefighters are twice as likely to develop a variety of cancers due to their heightened exposure to carcinogens. This is due to materials found within burning buildings, the equipment they work with and their clothes, some of which were made with cancer-causing chemicals called Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) that make their turnout gear more flame resistant, he added.

Van Haalen detailed the efforts of the International Association of Fire Fighters to reduce its members' cancer risk. He recently attended a summit with U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) to advocate for the research and development of safer turnout gear, he said.

Van Haalen also talked about Fire Prevention Week and the interactions his members have with area school children to teach fire safety. 

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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