COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Saturday, St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP) hosted a free cancer screening event for Cohoes Firefighters at the Green Island Fire Station. Healthcare providers from SPHP Capital Region Urology performed a variety of cancers screenings including bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular, and thyroid.

According to officials, firefighters are exposed to hundreds of different chemicals on the job that are the byproducts of combustion from the materials that are burning. These chemicals they said could be inhaled by firefighters and can also get on their skin, in their eyes, or ingested, in addition to reusing contaminated personal protective equipment.

“Most of the products that are burning in our homes today are petroleum-based. They’re highly toxic, and even with our protective equipment, it still gets absorbed into our skin through our pores,” said Green Island Fire Station Captian Jason Geary. “Standing out in front of the smoke that’s out in the street — even doing investigations afterward, even though there’s no smoke, the products are still being off-gassed which we are inhaling. So firefighters are at a greater risk of getting cancers.”

As a result, every time men and women fight a fire, exposure to these carcinogens increases their risk for bladder, testicular, prostate, kidney, colon, lung, head, and neck cancers, as well as melanoma. Many of these chemicals are known to or suspected to cause cancer, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said is a leading cause of death among firefighters.

SPHP has launched a pilot program with the Cohoes Fire Department to raise awareness about these risks factors to provide education to firefighters and encourage them to have honest conversations with their doctors to obtain the health care they need. Additional cancer prevention awareness will also be provided, including information on tobacco cessation.