The scientific community identified PFAS as a hazard in fire fighter turnout gear in several studies. They call these chemicals “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment. Forever chemicals also stay in the body for many years. This creates additional risk of exposure to the public and fire fighters. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that these chemicals cause cancer and other serious health effects.
IAFF and Metro Chiefs Warn Fire Fighters of PFAS
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs) notified members of the adverse health risks from fire fighter turnout gear. The CDC has further identified many risks of exposure to PFAS. PFAS is found in turnout gear.
Recommended Precautions to Prevent fire fighter PFAS Injury
To protect firefighters from injury, the fire fighter associations recommend actions fire fighters can take to protect themselves. They designed these precautions to limit firefighter exposure to PFAS. Consistently, this reduces the risk of disease. Accordingly, they recommend the following:
- Don’t take turnout gear into firehouse living areas.
- Seal all gear in a container or a bag when transporting in personal vehicles,
- Regularly clean apparatus cabs
- Wash your hands after handling turnout gear.
- Replace old gear with new PFAS- free technology
- Don’t wear the gear if this level of protection isn’t required.
Turnout Gear Cancer Research
Additionally, the IAFF recently partnered with the American Cancer Society. They have also hired their first ever Chief Medical Officer. The IAFF acted to expand cancer research in this area and work to eliminate the risk of exposure to PFAS. The firefighter associations hope this will protect firefighters from cancer caused by exposure to PFAS in turnout gear.
Working to Eliminate PFAS from turnout gear
The IAFF and the Metro Chiefs are dedicated to removing PFAS chemicals from turnout gear. They want to eliminate cancer from the fire service. Therefore, the firefighter associations are working with industry and legislative bodies to eliminate PFAS from fire fighter gear. Fire fighters can help by taking these recommended steps to reduce exposure.