To research that shows firefighters serve their communities with a greater risk of developing cancer or respiratory diseases. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports the risk of testicular cancer is 102 percent higher among firefighters compared to the population on the whole. The risk of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma is more than 50 percent higher than the general population. A 2010 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which surveyed more than 30,000 firefighters, found higher numbers of digestive, respiratory, oral and urinary cancers. Because of their exposure to asbestos, firefighters have twice the risk of mesothelioma, a rare cancer connected to asbestos exposure. Firefighters 65 and younger also showed higher numbers of bladder and prostate cancer. A 2005 study of Florida firefighters found an increased risk of mortality for men from breast, bladder and thyroid cancers. There was also a noted increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality among female firefighters. Count retired deputy state fire marshal Joe Zurolo Sr., a member of Singerly Fire Company, among those who likely have service-related illnesses, as he was diagnosed with COPD. We owe it to our first responders to study the problem and develop solutions to mitigate as many of these risks as possible.
To the news that about 40 percent of county high school seniors will find themselves enrolled in remedial classes on Monday because they’re not considered ready for college. Even though these students may have passed English and math classes their entire school career, a new state law that goes into effect this school year says these students aren’t college-ready unless they’ve hit a certain score on one of a variety of standardized tests. The goal of the law is to decrease the number of Maryland students who find themselves testing into remedial classes once they set foot on a college campus — forcing them to spend extra time and money trying to catch up. A 2013 study by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services found that about 58 percent of community college students and about one-third of students at four-year colleges need remedial classes in at least one subject. County school officials have bemoaned the lack of time to prepare for the new requirements, but we wonder what is the bigger underlying cause. Is the style of the test’s questions unfamiliar with these students, or are they not able to comprehend the subject matter? While students will have to take remedial classes and retake the test, they won’t be required to pass the standards for graduation. Meanwhile, we hope that education officials at the local and state level investigate how to decrease the percentage of remedial students for future years.