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New England Journal of Medicine Sites Myeloma as Concern for Firefighters at 9-11 Scene
In an article entitled "The Legacy of the World Trade Center Dust," physicians say more than 5 years after the World Trade Center disaster, "uncertainty and controversy remain about the health risks posed by inhaling dust, the subsequent fires and the cleanup effort."
06.01.07
In an article entitled "The Legacy of the World Trade Center Dust," physicians say more than 5 years after the World Trade Center disaster, "uncertainty and controversy remain about the health risks posed by inhaling dust, the subsequent fires and the cleanup effort."

In an audio interview on the Journal Website, Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, adds specifically, "The kind of thing that worries us is, we know we have a handful of cases of multiple myeloma in younger individuals, and multiple myeloma is a condition that almost always presents later in life. So that's the kind of odd, unusual and troubling finding that we're seeing already."

At the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), we know these concerns reach beyond New York and beyond the horrors of 9-11.

"There is mounting evidence that environmental factors may increase the risk of multiple myeloma, and that years of cumulative exposure are resulting in a measurable, increased incidence of myeloma among firefighters," said Brian G.M. Durie, MD, chairman and co-founder of the IMF.

Yet Tom Bay adds that there are steps firemen can take to minimize their risk. Tom, who is a myeloma patient, an IMF board member, and someone who has worked with firefighter organizations for several decades, says that simple steps like the immediate washing of firefighting gear and showering right after a fire are crucial. Even though firefighters may return to the firehouse exhausted, these steps can make a difference.

The IMF recommends that veteran firefighters discuss possible risks with their own physicians. Those who have spent more than ten years fighting fires should also consider tests for myeloma as part of their annual physicals.


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