IAFF supports firefighters suing over PFAS in turnout gear

One of the defendants, 3M, says it no longer makes the foam mentioned and it stands by its products’ safety


By Leila Merrill

WASHINGTON — The International Association of Fire Fighters voiced its support last week for two legal challenges by firefighters over PFAS.  

In lawsuits filed in Massachusetts and New York, the plaintiffs claim that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are in firefighters’ protective equipment and are responsible for their illnesses.

“What we have known for a while and what the public is starting to learn is that there is also another hazard lurking that threatens the health and well-being of firefighters in every firehouse in the United States and every fire hall in Canada. The protective turnout gear that firefighters wear contains PFAS, which are used to increase water resistance and are in the moisture barrier and on the outer shell of fire fighters’ protective gear. PFAS have also been identified as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The correlation between firefighters and elevated cases of cancer is not by coincidence,” the organization stated in a news release.

One of the defendants, 3M, said in a statement that it stands by its products’ safety, Bloomberg Law reported. The company said it no longer makes or sells the Aqueous Film Forming Foam mentioned in the lawsuit.

“3M is proud of the many ways we apply science to create products that our customers rely on,” it said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend our record of responsible use of PFAS and environmental stewardship in ongoing litigation, including these cases.”

IAFF General President Edward Kelly tweeted, “I am proud to stand with our brothers and sisters in NY and Mass. in their effort to hold manufacturers accountable. We continue to lose too many of our brothers and sisters to occupational cancer and I am committed to ensuring PFAS are no longer in our PPE.”

Last year, the IAFF resolved to no longer accept ads or sponsorships from the chemical industry, textile makers or personal protective equipment manufacturers that use toxic chemicals.

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