US Authorities Implement Ban on PFAS in Firefighting Equipment Amid Health Concerns

Ban on PFAS in Firefighting Equipment
Ban on PFAS in Firefighting Equipment. Credit | Shutterstock

United States: A prohibition on “forever chemicals” in the gear firemen use to combat fires is about to be passed in San Francisco.

Health Risks of PFAS

On Tuesday, megacity lawmakers are anticipated to authorize an constitution that will prohibit the use of firefighting outfit composed of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances( PFAS).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS have been connected to health pitfalls similar as lower fertility, low birth weight, and experimental detainments in children, as well as an increased threat of some malice and elevated cholesterol situations.

According to NBC News, the chemicals are still utilized in some firefighting foams and almost all firefighters’ outfits despite being phased out of most manufacturing. This is because the compounds remain in the environment for years.

Should the bill become law, the more than 1,400 firemen in the city would need to purchase new protective gear built without PFAS by June 30, 2026.

Legislative Action in San Francisco

The legislation’s author, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, stated that he thought the prohibition “is morally right and it is financially right.”

“The expense pales in comparison to the value of a human life, the expense of medical treatment, and the expense of resolving legal disputes,” he stated to NBC News.

Due to her two bouts of cancer, Lt. Magaly Saade, a training instructor and firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department, had to have radiation treatment and a double mastectomy.

Personal Stories and Moral Justification

She feels her ailments may have been exacerbated by the protective jacket and pants she wore during her 26 years as a firefighter.

Saade said NBC News, “I really don’t want someone else to have to go through what I went through.”

The World Health Organization even lists firefighting as carcinogenic. In addition to these carcinogenic compounds, firefighters are exposed to other risks such as smoke, asbestos, diesel exhaust, and other toxins during their employment.

However, according to NBC News, protective clothing free of PFAS is still not generally accessible.

Balancing Safety and Functionality

Eleven firemen from San Francisco have been testing new uniforms made without perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) since February as part of a countrywide experiment coordinated by the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The trial is investigating the dependability of three distinct firms’ uniforms. This summer is when preliminary results are anticipated, according to NBC News.

Among the firemen evaluating the new equipment is Adam Wood, vice president of the San Francisco firemen Cancer Prevention Foundation.

“I have nothing but positive things to report when it comes to working in a fire, enabling us to do our duties, and shielding us from the heat,” he said to NBC News.

Experts assert that concerns about the long-term safety of PFAS-free

North Carolina State University assistant professor of textile engineering Bryan Ormond told NBC News, “We don’t want to just trade one hazard for another.” “We must consider what the trade-offs are and what outcomes are possible.”

According to Ormond’s research, eliminating PFAS would make firefighter garments less breathable and more prone to burning. According to his research, alternative textiles can be up to 60% less repellent than turnouts, or regular uniforms.

He stated, “Where firefighters didn’t have that before, we’re introducing a potential hazard for flammability on the fire scene.”

Call for Further Testing and Caution

Wood concurred that additional testing is required.

“We just have to make sure that they continue to perform their function as turnouts, shielding us from the heat and enabling us to carry out our duties in a burning building,” he remarked. “We must be certain that the replacement for PFAS does not substitute one poison for another.”