AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Nearly 10% of Portland's professional firefighters have cancer; that's according to Dr. Susan Shaw, a scientist who studies the link between toxins and cancer in firefighters.
On Wednesday she joined with a group of firefighters and environmental activists to kick off a nationwide campaign called "Give Toxics The Boot."
Studies show that flame retardant chemicals used in furniture, plastics, and electronics still burn in fires, and when they do, they release carcinogens. Those carcinogens are inhaled by firefighters and absorbed through the skin.
This new campaign not only calls on firefighters to be more aware of the dangers and take better care of themselves on the scene of fires, but also calls on Congress to tighten restrictions on the chemicals that go into household products.
Dr. Shaw is launching a study at the end of the year with 100 Portland firefighters, studying blood and urine samples after fires. The goal is to help figure out exactly which chemicals are triggering cancer and get them out of the home.
There's a documentary about this subject being shown this weekend in Maine called "Toxic Hot Seat." The film follows firefighters, scientists and activists, including former Maine legislator Hannah Pingree, in their campaign against toxic chemicals in household products.
There are two free showings, first on Saturday night at the Space Gallery in portland, then on Sunday afternoon at the Strand Theater in Rockland. If you'd like to reserve a seat, you can RSVP here.