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Firefighters face hurdles in quest for PFAS-free gear

By July 13, 2021PFAS in the news

Firefighters want the option to wear protective gear that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals. The only problem? The very garment manufacturers whose gear contains PFAS sit on the standard-setting committee they must convince.

Firefighters have grown increasingly concerned with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their “turnout gear” — firefighters’ personal protective equipment — over the past year because the chemicals are highly toxic and linked to a wide variety of health problems even at very low levels. They include cancer, which is the biggest line-of-duty cause of death within the fire service, due to toxic smoke encountered when battling blazes.

But purchasing turnout gear without PFAS is nearly impossible because rules from the National Fire Protection Association require some fabrics used in the gear to withstand 40 consecutive hours of harsh ultraviolet light, and only textiles containing PFAS are able to pass that test (Greenwire, Feb. 16). Read more…