Firefighters worry about chemicals in their gear, but alternatives could present problems too

  • Source: North Carolina Health News
  • Published: 01/25/2023 12:00 AM

Firefighter Jason Burns appreciates the attention that firefighting foam has received recently because long term exposure to it has been linked to cancer. However, he says he’s rarely used firefighting foam in his nearly 20-year career. “I tend to focus on our gear because most fire departments aren’t using foam on a regular basis, whereas I’m using my gear, firefighters are using our gear 10-14 times a tour, which is what we call our day of work,” he said. Burns’ “turnout gear” is the heavy, multilayered set of clothes that protects firefighters from heat, water and other liquids such as hot oils encountered while responding to an emergency. Several layers of the gear — usually the outermost layer and an inner moisture barrier — are coated with PFAS, which efficiently repels liquids while allowing for breathability.


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