CDC/ATSDR APPROPRIATE $7,000,000 FOR US FIREFIGHTERS FOR PFAS STUDY RE AFFF/PPE ** IDLH **
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America's firefighters have been on the front line of PFOA/PFOS exposure since 1983 while using it in AFFF, being sprayed in our eyes, mouth, nose, wading in it, having it adhere to our PPE/personal protection ensembles/turnout gear, and exposing our families to this toxin after bringing home contaminated gear.
We were not aware how toxic this substance was.
We have just recently learned our turnout gear, or PPE has been impregnated with PFOA since 1999 (at least) to make our gear water repellent so that it meets the NFPA 1971 water resistance standards for firefighting. We were not made aware. We do not know how much. Only the chemical giants have that information. We sweat in this gear, our body temperature rises and our skin absorbs these toxins. We start our careers in our child bearing years. PFOA and PFOS are designated by California Prop65 as causing 'reproductive cancers'.
In 2006 the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) notified the chemical giants that they would be restricting PFOA in 'textiles'. One of those textiles is firefighter PPE. By 2012 PFOA was designated Substance of Very High Concern by the ECHA. Turnout gear manufacturers were made aware of the decision to restrict the amount of PFOA in turnout gear to 25ppb and 'precursors' to 1ppm.
As of today, January 18, 2018, they have not advised the US of this issue formally. While the manufacturers are discussing and teaching about the issue in Europe, they have not mentioned it here. They have only minimized the issue when it came up recently by way of a firefighting article here in the US. https://station-pride.com/2017/03/28/the-real-cancer-in-your-gear/
We are in a particularly high risk exposure setting as our gear has been degrading in our fire stations where we work, eat, sleep, since 1999.
The coating on our gear degrades in UV lighting, in many stations our gear is stored in open lighting next to the engines and trucks in our bays. There may be as many as 30 sets of gear in a station in one week. The gear is designed to be used for 5 years and 30 washings. Over the course of 20 years we have had thousands of sets of gear in our stations releasing particles of PFOA into our 'home'.
As of this date, there has not been a PFAS dust study done in our stations. Yet, biomonitoring has shown firefighters PFOA serum tested in ranges from 243 ng/mL to 423 ng/mL from a 'yet unknown source'. The 'DuPont Water Works' plant workers were high at 32 ng/mL.
Adding to this IDLH issue is the October 2, 2017 NH DES letter to every fire station in NH that of 6 of 7 New Hampshire fire stations water wells tested at 'elevated' levels of PFAS. https://www4.des.state.nh.us/nh-pfas-investigation/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Fire_Department_H20Sample.pdf
Since September 5, 2017, Environmental Attorney Robert Bilott, along with C8 Science panel member Dr Paul A Brooks, and Fire Chief Jeffrey Hermes have demanded testing and studies of the EPA, CDC/ATSDR, and US Attorney General on behalf of all responders in the US due to their exposure from these areas. See letter here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3988104-Firefighter-Letter.html
On January 16, 2018 Attorney Bilott did receive a reply from Patrick Breysee PhD CIH Dir ATSDR indicating the monies Attorney Bilott requested (7,000,000) from the recently found funds available, was not yet designated for FIREFIGHTERS.
We seek immediate support and decisiveness that these funds are designated for the front line, who while already at a very high risk for cancer., was unaware of the toxin in our PPE and the extent of the toxicity of PFAS in the AFFF.
The manufacturers were well awaare of the extent and danger of this toxin, yet chose to not issue the hazard in warning labels in our gear. They actually belong to a group called Fire and Emergency Manufacturers Association (FEMSA) THAT FOUGHT FOR, AND WON THE RIGHT, TO NOT PUT WARNING LABELS IN OUR GEAR. https://www.femsa.org/whois_femsa/history/
These same manufacturers sit at our NFPA standards committees deciding everything from the balance of a helmet to the width of reflective tape on our gear. Not once did they disclose this danger to us. These are very complicated drawn out committees, at any time a manufacturer could have provided a 'notice of concern'. They did not.
We cannot wait one more day for money to be found while we don gear that is coated in PFAS and use AFFF that may or may not be safe.
We have sacrificed enough, we have given enough of ourselves, we expect immediate action from each and every individual on this petition. We deserve nothing less. We have been kicked down the road long enough in this ruse of deception and omission of the toxic hazards of PFAS from the manufactures that provide our PPE and AFFF. Charge this back on them if need be. The PPE industry alone in the USA is over 5 billion dollars.
On August 11, 2017, we received the test results of NEW, NEVER WORN 2004 turnout gear. We had it tested to determine if there could still be PFOA in the gear after 13 years. The testing was performed by Professor of Physics, Graham Peaslee, Notre Dame, IN. Here are his results:
Sorry for the slow response, but we ran your samples earlier this week (on Tuesday), and I have just looked through the results for four samples:
Left Under Arm firefighting suit FF-LUA
Moisture Barrier firefighting suit FF-MBTL
Right Sleeve by Cuff firefighting suit FF-RSC
Tail firefighting suit FF-T
The Moisture Barrier sample actually had two parts to it, a thin underlining fabric and the thicker outer layer. We labeled the thin fabric as MBTL2.
The results are pretty unambiguous...Everything except that thin underlining fabric was heavily fluorinated:
Sample counts/uC error ppm F Percent F
FF-LUA 24682 2472 10555 1.62
FF-MBTL 57530 5756 24603 3.77
FF-MTBL2 485 98 207 0.06
FF-RSC 20691 2073 8849 1.36
FF-T 18212 1826 7789 1.19
840 ppm F std 1964 128
We typically measure in parts-per-million, but these fabrics are so heavily fluorinated, they are better measured in percent fluorine content...each of the pieces contained between ~1 and ~4% fluorine (last column on right). This would typically indicate a very heavy treatment in PFAS chemicals to impart water and flame resistance to the fabric. We have seen values like this before, but typically only on fire-resistant fabrics.
We also looked at these fabrics yesterday with an X-ray Fluorescence unit, just to test for the presence of other flame retardants in the material, and we did not see any chlorinated nor brominated compounds nor heavy metals, so it looks like the flame-resistant properties of these materials are being given by fluorinated compounds alone...
I hope this information is useful to you. If you want to know which specific PFAS compounds are present in the fabrics (it can often be a mixture), then you would have to perform a chemical measurement using an instrument called Liquid-Chromotrography - Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). There are commercial companies that make these measurements (TestAmerica, for example), but they are complicated measurements and they typically charge several hundred dollars for a single analysis.
Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide for you....
We need water testing in our stations, dust studies in our stations, new technology that does not require PFAS and precursors for coatings that will form PFOA to meet our NFPA Standards, we need serum testing to follow us thorough our careers.
We sacrifice enough.
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