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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Legislation would provide military firefighters with blood tests for chemicals

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A bill recently introduced in the U.S. House would provide blood testing for military firefighters who were potentially exposed on the job to toxic chemicals.

The Protecting Military Firefighters from PFAS Act would test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances during annual physicals required by the Department of Defense.

The chemicals were used in multiple products for decades including firefighting foams, water-resistant clothing and Teflon pans. Perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid were the primary chemicals in the firefighting foams.

Some studies have linked the chemicals to reproductive and developmental issues, some cancers, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol and other negative health effects.

The Department of Defense is investigating more than 400 military bases where the foams were used.

“Military firefighters respond to our nation’s emergencies, but we’re not responding to their health needs,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (R-NJ), who introduced the bill, said. “That’s unacceptable. Considering the recent trends, our military should take this simple proactive step to add a needed blood test so service members have all of the health information they need.”

The bill is supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The act is a companion bill to a Senate bill sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).