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Friday, April 9th, 2021

Bill targets firefighter PFAS chemical exposure

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced a bill designed to better protect firefighters in New York and nationwide from toxic exposure to PFAS chemicals.

PFAS are used as an ingredient in special foam used to fight fires, called aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The use of the foam, particularly at training facilities, exposes firefighters to PFAS. PFAS chemicals have been previously linked to cancer and other serious health problems, per authorities.

The PFAS Firefighter Protection Act would ban the manufacture, importation, and sale of all firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals within two years of enactment while also establishing firm deadlines for airports for prohibiting the use of PFAS firefighting foams.

“The dangers posed by PFAS firefighting foam, and runoff from its use, are well known and widespread,” Gillibrand said while detailing the bill during a recent visit to the Farmingdale Fire Department on Long Island. “We have seen, in New York and across the country, a clear link between the use of PFAS firefighting foam at airports and on military bases and dangerous levels of PFAS in the drinking water of the surrounding communities.”

Gillibrand said while all risks firefighters confront on the job can never be removed, the legislation would go a long way toward reducing some of the most unnecessary long-term health risks faced.

“These toxic chemicals were first developed to simplify our lives, but now they are making us sick,” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said. “These chemicals are a serious problem due to their elusive and persistent nature, which allows them to bio accumulate. Their widespread use has led to them being almost ubiquitous in our environment. We are delighted that Sen. Gillibrand is providing critical leadership in fighting to protect public health and our environment from this significant threat.”