Congress passes bipartisan Bill to protect firefighters from PFAS chemicals


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A bipartisan bill to provide guidance for federal, state, and local fire departments to prevent firefighters from being exposed to harmful PFAS chemicals that are frequently used in firefighting equipment has been passed by the US House of Representatives.

The bill passed the Senate last summer, where it was authored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and co-sponsored by Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

Once this legislation is signed into law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) will have one year to publish training guidance.

The curriculum is required to include ways to reduce or eliminate exposure to PFAS from firefighting foam and PPE, strategies for preventing the release of PFAS from firefighting foam into the environment, and provide emergency personnel with information on alternatives to PFAS equipment and foams.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) expressed its support for all efforts to reduce exposures to PFAS and other carcinogens. IAFF General President Edward Kelly said: “PFAS is all around us. It is in our bunker gear, our PPE, and training foam. Until PFAS can be removed and replaced with safer alternatives, we must incorporate all preventative measures. I am grateful that our elected officials are taking action and look forward to continuing to work with them to extinguish cancer from the fire service.”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) applauded the House for passing the bill. Jay Lucey, EWG’s legislative director for government affairs commented: “Firefighters are among those most exposed to harms from PFAS, but many local fire departments lack the resources and guidance to switch to PFAS-free alternatives.”

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