While firefighters fearlessly tackle blazing fires, there’s a hidden menace intertwined with their protective gear: PFAs in Firefighter Gear, specifically Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAs). The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has filed a lawsuit against the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), accusing the association of mandating the use of PFAs in their gear, thereby contributing to a surge in occupational cancer among firefighters.
It’s Not Just in Firefighter Suits
Although you may not don a firefighter’s suit, PFAs should be a matter of concern for you, too. Their presence extends beyond the firefighter’s gear; PFAs are prevalent in numerous everyday products due to their resistance to heat, water, and stains.
Firefighters wear gear that is intended to shield them from intense fires. But these suits contain PFAs, which the IAFF suggests are a significant cause of occupational cancer. Shockingly, almost three-quarters of the firefighters remembered at the last fallen firefighter memorial were victims of occupational cancer.
The NFPA standard currently necessitates the inclusion of PFAs in protective gear. The 40-hour UV light test, in particular, required for the moisture barrier in bunker gear, has come under scrutiny. The IAFF claims that PFAs-based materials are the only ones that can pass this test, and the test duration appears designed to specifically favor these materials.
Health Consequences from PFA Exposure
But don’t let out a sigh of relief just yet if you aren’t wearing a firefighter’s suit. PFAs are alarmingly widespread. You can find these chemicals in non-stick cookware, water and stain-resistant fabrics, firefighting foam, and even certain food packaging. Hence, we may be unknowingly coming into contact with PFAs daily.
The health consequences linked to PFAs exposure are alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that PFAs have been associated with cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, and other diseases. Several studies confirm the CDC’s warnings, underlining a clear relationship between PFAs exposure and these health problems.
To combat this issue, the IAFF is advocating for a change in the testing standards of protective gear. Their goal is to hold the NFPA accountable and eliminate the need for PFAs in protective gear, consequently reducing the risk of cancer among firefighters.
Reduce Your Exposure to PFAs
So, how can you protect yourself? Start by reducing your PFAs exposure. Choose PFAs-free products such as cookware and prefer natural, untreated fabrics. Staying informed about PFAs and their potential health risks is crucial.
The battle against PFAs isn’t limited to firefighters; it involves us all. By educating ourselves about these chemicals and reducing our exposure, we contribute to a healthier future for everyone.
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