WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in reintroducing a bipartisan bill to help protect the health and safety of firefighters, emergency responders and the communities they serve. The Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, which passed the Senate last Congress, directs federal agencies to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit, and prevent exposure to PFAS.
“The brave men and women who run into burning buildings for us should be aware of the dangers that accompany PFAS exposure,” said Senator Carper. “This bipartisan legislation will help better protect our firefighters and first responders from these forever chemicals and bring much-needed attention to this problem. Firefighting foam is a major source of PFAS-contaminated drinking water, which impacts millions of Americans. Passing this bill should be part of broader, overdue government action to protect all Americans from liver damage, thyroid disease, cancer and other health effects associated with exposure to these chemicals .”
“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,” said Senator Peters. “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 Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—to develop educational resources to help protect firefighters, emergency response personnel, and the communities they serve from PFAS exposure. This would include information for federal, state, and local firefighters on training and best practices to prevent and reduce exposure to PFAS from firefighting foams and protective gear, as well as resources that identify alternatives for firefighting tools and equipment that do not contain PFAS.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally. Emergency response teams are frequently exposed to harmful PFAS substances in firefighting foams and personal protective equipment as they work to keep communities safe. PFAS have been linked to a number of health problems, including certain cancers.