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Debbie Dujanovic reporting An Eyewitness News Investigation first revealed a scary trend among officers who investigate meth labs.
Now, new information is surfacing.
There are several new developments in our investigation. The number of sick or dead officers is growing. Now, several are seeking compensation for their medical bills. More officers are speaking out about their exposure to chemicals as they fought the war on meth.
"The whole left side of my face just shutdown."
"I was doing a deal and started throwing up blood."
"I had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance because I couldn't breath, I was breathing, I couldn't get any oxygen in."
"I personally know an officer who passed away and it alarms me."
71 Utah law enforcement officers: The number we've now documented who are sick, suffering, or dead. All of them shared a common assignment through the 80's and 90's : meth lab investigations.
Richard Hales/Spanish Fork Police Dept.: "The numbers are becoming overwhelming, that's why I’m here.”
Former Narcotics officers from Utah County sat down with us to reveal they're suffering with strange symptoms.
Like most Utah officers throughout the 80's and 90's , they weren't issued protective gear, and were trained to inhale the chemicals in meth labs for police reports. They recall it made some fellow investigators sick on the spot.
Dennis Harris, Utah County Sheriff's Office: "He put it up to his nose, smelled it, and dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes, he couldn't breath."
Lt. Richard Ferguson, Provo Police Department: "Anytime you walk into a room and it makes your throat burn for 5 or 6 days later, or you get dizzy spells you can't explain or headaches, that's one thing, but where your brother officers start dying ".
Eyewitness News has documented 10 deaths among officers who investigated meth labs. Cancer is the number one killer.
In all, 22 of the officers have been diagnosed with cancers, most in their 30's and 40's Five have developed cancer of the esophagus. Compare that to the national rate: Five out of 200-thousand Americans a year develop esophageal cancer.
Officers also report lung diseases, severe liver, and kidney damage, neurological disorders.
As a result of our investigation: officers in Utah County are asking county government to pay for medical testing, and mounting bills. They're hoping to cap the financial stress brought on by health problems.
Shaun Bufton, Utah County Sheriff's Office: "I’m not putting the blame on anybody, but we didn't do the right things as a group, as agencies, we should've done more research on what were sending our guys into, because it is a hazardous environment."
Officers from other departments are filing workers compensation claims against their own agencies, for medical coverage.
Since our initial reports last month, some police departments have launched internal reviews of meth lab policies, and officers exposures.