TUCSON, Ariz. — Medical researchers at the University of Arizona's College of Public Health will use new funding from the federal government to design a long-term study of the causes of cancer in firefighters.

The $1.5 million Department of Homeland Security grant announced Wednesday will allow researchers to add firefighters at departments in Boston and southern Arizona to groups already being studied in Tucson and Florida.

The goal is to measure firefighters' exposure to chemicals, smoke and other carcinogens through inhalation and skin. The study could ultimately determine which exposures most often cause cancer.

The study could also lead to methods to limit exposure through new skin and equipment cleaning methods and to earlier detection of the disease when treatment is more effective.

Cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters.