MICHIGAN, USA — Firefighters can be exposed to a lot of dangers in their day-to-day work but one of those dangers could be in the equipment they use to stop fires.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can be found in firefighting foams and other water resistant materials. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to long-lasting health problems, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
To stop these problems before they start, a new bill in D.C. is headed to the senate to help protect firefighters from the dangers of PFAS.
The legislation was authored by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). Peters said the bill would help with training and education for departments while the chemical is being phased out.
Every major firefighter organization in the country backed this legislation.
“Firefighters are unfortunately exposed to extremely high levels of PFAS chemicals in the line of duty," said Peters. "Despite evidence linking PFAS to serious health problems, very little has been done to address the impact these chemicals can have on the health of the brave men and women who look out for our own safety."
PFAS has been used in some firefighting foam, waterproofing, carpeting and other products. It can get into drinking water when products containing the chemicals are spilled onto the ground or in lakes or rivers. The compound has also been found to be harmful when it has direct contact with the skin.
"Our firefighters put themselves into harm's way every time they go on a run and deal with very dangerous situations," Peters said. "They are certainly very highly trained to deal with those situations, but they also need to be protected from the substances that they're using."
The bill passed out of committee on Wednesday and now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
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