Certain careers and professions are inherently riskier than others. If you make your living working for an Ohio fire department, you work in one such profession. While the firefighting profession brings with it a broad range of potential health and safety risks, one particularly troubling risk you face is that of developing work-related cancer.

According to Safety + Health, a recent study involving about 30,000 American firefighters revealed that they face more substantial cancer risks than the rest of the population. The study revealed that today’s firefighters are nearly twice as likely as the general population to develop malignant mesothelioma, which is a rare form of cancer that typically develops after prolonged exposure to asbestos. Furthermore, today’s firefighters are more likely to develop digestive, respiratory, oral or urinary cancer than the rest of the population. So, what steps can you take as a firefighter to minimize your cancer risk?

Always wear personal protective equipment

Chances are, you wear full personal protective equipment anytime you participate in firefighting operations. Make sure that you also, however, wear such equipment during overhaul or salvage operations. Additionally, ensure you always utilize self-contained breathing devices when working.

Change clothes promptly

Many cancer-causing substances have the potential to contaminate your personal protective equipment. It is essential that you change out of such equipment as soon as you possibly can to minimize exposure to potentially harmful contaminants. Shower as soon as you can, too, to eliminate any lingering contaminants that may be on your body.

Launder your clothing and gear promptly

It is also critical that you launder your clothes and thoroughly wash your protective equipment as soon as possible after use. In the event that you cannot wash anything right away, store it in a closed trash bag away from other clothing or gear.

Your job is a critical one, but it is also highly dangerous. Your employer has a duty to mitigate your cancer risk as much as possible. You can help do the same by following the above advice.