TOLEDO (WTVG) – According to the National Fire Protection Association, firefighters are 9 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the average American.
The Toledo Fire and Rescue department is teaming up with Cancer Dogs, a Canadian company that uses dogs to detect possible cancer in someone’s breath.
Cancer Dogs is currently running screening trials all across the U.S. More than 100 fire departments have taken part in the screenings. The goal is to detect cancer early.
Here is how it works: you put on a surgical mask and breathe into it for 10 minutes. The mask is then put into a bag and shipped off to a lab in Nova Scotia. Specially trained dogs then sniff the samples and determine if they believe cancer is present.
Battalion Chief Mike Nicely says the higher risk of cancer on the job is a concern. He elected to take the test and says when he started in the fire service, there was not as much knowledge about the dangers of carcinogens and smoke exposure.
“We used to wear the soot as a badge of honor and we realize now that was very dangerous, that was a poor decision, but we didn’t know any different. Now, we do,” says Nicely.
Members of Local 92, Local 3382 and family members were all offered a chance to take the screening. Each person had to pay $30 out of pocket to participate.
Results of the tests should be back within a month. The TFRD says they were told that there is a possibility of false positives and false negatives. If the dog hits and detects possible cancer, the participant is contacted privately and urged to follow-up with their doctor.