PFAS – Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

For your interest…

As retired firefighters, we all have had exposure to carcinogens over our careers. PFAS are just one more concern when it comes to cancers in firefighters. The fire fighting community is pushing to have ‘PFAS” removed from fire fighting turnout gear, as they are possibly carcinogenic.

PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (once known by an older term “PFCs,” or perfluorochemicals). Also called the ‘forever chemicals’ they can be found in many things other than fire fighting and are probably best known for their use in non-stick cookware. If an item of clothing repels water there is a chance PFAS are involved.

Unfortunately, after years of wearing turnout gear avoiding PFAS appears to be near impossible, but limiting exposure by knowing where they are used may be practical.

As retired firefighters (or still active) it is important to remain aware of the risk of cancer, and know how to access possible entitlements should the unthinkable strike.

For more information see the links below or google ‘PFAS’

Presumptive cancers

Take care, stay safe, stay healthy

Statement from the IAFF General President.

“The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) supports the latest legal challenges filed by fire fighters in Massachusetts and New York alleging that the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – so called ‘forever chemicals’ also known as PFAS  — in fire fighters’ personal protective equipment (PPE) caused their illnesses, and that the corporations who sell the products are engaged in a ‘continuous and ongoing public deception’ regarding their risks.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Canadians –

Where are PFAS found?

PFAS are used in a wide range of products and industrial processes, such as surfactants, lubricants and repellents (for dirt, water and grease). They can also be found in products as diverse as firefighting foams, cosmetics, food packaging and textiles (such as carpets, furniture and clothing).

Which products contain PFAS?

(from USA Today)

PFAS chemicals are perhaps best known for their use in nonstick cookware. The Teflon brand revolutionized such products, but the use of PFAS is widespread across many nonstick cookware brands.

PFAS are also often behind any product that boasts waterproof or stain-resistant properties. Such products include clothing, rainwear, furniture, outdoor equipment, tapes, and cosmetics. They are also frequently used in food packaging to minimize the leaking of grease.

PFAS are also frequently used in electronics, medical equipment, and renewable technologies. The military has used them in foams to help douse fires, particularly those that involve oil and can be water-resistant.