“We, the undersigned citizens and organizations, are highly concerned about firefighter exposures to PFAS chemicals. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made toxic chemicals used to make consumer products resistant to heat, water, or stains. These chemicals have been utilized extensively in firefighting foams.
Human health studies have shown that exposure to certain PFAS may affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, interfere with the body’s natural hormones, increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system, and increase the risk of cancer. Dr. Linda Birnbaum, former Director of The National Institute of Health (NIH/NIEHS), reports these chemicals affect nearly every system in the body.
According to federal health officials, firefighters who use these products have been shown to have greater exposures as compared to the general population. Exposure pathways for firefighters include incidental soil/dust ingestion, dermal exposure, and inhalation. For firefighters, the main route of entry is usually through the respiratory system, especially at incidents. Firefighters may also handle open containers of concentrated foams at the firehouse when topping off the apparatus tank during scheduled maintenance. Fluorine-free foams and gels are available that have been proven just as effective to use.
We cannot depend upon industry, and/or associations to self-regulate. PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) is urging EPA to classify all forms of waste contaminated with PFAS as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) in order to safely manage the PFAS waste from the moment it is generated, while it is transported, treated, or stored, until it is disposed.”
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