Inventor and Owner of UnderGuardian™
Hi, I’m Mark Monson, inventor and owner of UnderGuardian™. I have been a firefighter for 26 years, 20 as a volunteer and 18 years as a career firefighter, currently a Captain and Paramedic in St. Paul, Minnesota. Throughout the years, I have seen many of my fellow firefighters battle cancer. Most commonly, testicular, bladder, colon and stomach cancers. Rather than accepting this as a risk of the job, I was starting to wonder if there was more I could do. I extensively researched the risks of what firefighters face everyday, including our bodies working in hazardous environments. I learned that not only do we need to protect our airways but protecting our skin is also essential.
Firefighting is a dangerous profession, and a growing body of research and data shows the contributions that job-related exposures have in chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently undertook two large studies focused on firefighter cancer and concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S.
To reduce these numbers I studied the problem; I identified a solution; I then created and designed a clothing line. I gave several pairs of shorts away to fellow firefighters for beta testing, I even paid for independent testing to prove the manufacturer’s claims. Now the results are in! My line of clothing is comfortable, durable, affordable, safe and will block 98% of particulates .10 micron or greater before being absorbed through our skin. My hope is that someday every firefighter in America will be wearing my “Made in USA” UnderGuardian™ apparel and together we can reduce firefighter cancer.
When a fellow firefighter asked his wife, “Can we afford to spend money on a pair of shorts?” Her reply was, “Can we afford not to?”