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Important NIST Findings on Firefighter Gear: Understanding the Risks of PFAS

Wear and Tear May Cause Firefighter Gear to Release More ‘Forever Chemicals’"

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is dedicated to ensuring the safety and health of firefighters. In alignment with this commitment, we want to highlight crucial research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that directly impacts firefighter safety. NIST's recent study reveals concerning insights about the protective clothing - turnout gear - used by firefighters. This research has discovered that the textiles in this gear often contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances(PFAS), chemicals linked to increased cancer risk and other health effects. More alarmingly, NIST found that these chemicals are released more when the gear undergoes wear and tear. “Using PFAS in turnout gear may or may not be an acceptable risk, given all the other hazards that firefighters already face,” said NIST chemist and co-author John Kucklick. “This data will help people weigh those costs and benefits.”

This information is vital for IAFC members because it directly affects your health and safety. Understanding the potential risks associated with the gear you rely on daily is crucial. The NIST studies provide critical data that can help toxicologists, epidemiologists, and health experts better assess the risks firefighters face due to PFAS exposure.

We strongly encourage our members to read the full NIST article titled "Wear and Tear May CauseFirefighter Gear to Release More ‘Forever Chemicals’". This article not only delves deeper into the findings but also sheds light on the complexities and challenges of ensuring safety in firefighting gear. Stay informed and stay safe. Your health and well-being are paramount. Read the full NIST findings here.

For additional information related to PFAS, click here. 

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