Bill to protect FFs from PFAS reintroduced in Congress

The bill would direct federal agencies to develop training and best practices for fire departments nationwide to limit PFAS exposure


Holland Sentinel, Mich.

Feb. 6—WASHINGTON — Lawmakers have reintroduced legislation which aims at protecting firefighters and the communities they serve from PFAS and other dangerous chemicals.

The Protect Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act was introduced in the Senate Feb. 4 by Sen. Gary Peters, D- Bloomfield Township, and other lawmakers. The PFAS Act was also introduced in the last Congress and was passed by the Senate, but didn't pass the House.

Sen. Gary Peters reintroduced the Protect Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act into Congress last week. The bill would direct federal agencies to develop best practices to limit firefighters' PFAS exposure.
Sen. Gary Peters reintroduced the Protect Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act into Congress last week. The bill would direct federal agencies to develop best practices to limit firefighters' PFAS exposure. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The bill would direct federal agencies to develop training and best practices to limit exposure to PFAS in fire departments nationwide.

PFAS are often referred to as "forever chemicals," since they are extremely difficult to break down.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are contaminants that can cause health concerns such as thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancers as well as higher levels of cholesterol. According to the EPA, PFAS can be found in stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products, polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products and fire-fighting foams.

At the federal level, officials are focusing on ways to remove the contaminants from water supplies and other areas where they can cause harm to people.

"Protecting firefighters from harmful exposure to dangerous PFAS chemicals is the least we can do for these heroes who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe," Peters said in a statement. "I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill that will help protect the health and safety of first responders by limiting their exposure to these harmful chemicals in the line of duty."

The recently-relaunched PFAS Congressional Task Force, a bipartisan group of lawmakers focusing on PFAS-treatment legislation, also plans on pressuring environmental officials in the administration of President Joe Biden to enact a national clean drinking water standard.

For firefighters, exposure to PFAS while responding to emergencies is something that occurred, particularly in previous years before the dangers of PFAS were well known.

"I thank Senator Peters for his continued leadership on the PFAS Act," said Chief Richard R. Carrizzo, the President and Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

"As we learn more about PFAS, it is important for fire departments to adopt policies to reduce firefighters' and the general public's exposure. This legislation will develop helpful guidance that local fire departments can use. I welcome the PFAS Act's reintroduction and urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible."

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(c)2021 Holland Sentinel, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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