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ST. LOUIS (AP) — After losing four firefighters to aggressive forms of cancer in the past year, the St. Louis Fire Department is making changes aimed at reducing the risk caused by frequent exposure to carcinogens.

Chief Dennis Jenkerson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the deaths prompted the department to take a close look at literature related to firefighters and cancer.

Gear blackened from fires is no longer considered a badge of honor. Studies show that firefighters are at increased risk for some cancers due to carcinogens they face in battling fires.

Now, decontamination begins immediately after a fire. Firefighters are doused with water while in their gear in an effort to get rid of particles containing carcinogens. They use wipes on their hands, face and neck.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com