Firefighters Ought to Have Their Blood Tested for PFAS

A military helicopter covered in foam
Minnesota Army National Guard Hangar, 2011. Several Sikorsky UH-60 “Black Hawk” helicopters were covered with foam. Military and civilian hangars are often outfitted with overhead suppression systems containing the deadly foam. The systems often  malfunction.  Key Aero Forum

By Pat Elder, Military Poisons, November 11, 2022

Military and civilian firefighters are exposed to the cancer-causing chemicals in turnout gear, firefighting foam, and dust in fire stations. Blood testing is the first step in preventing disease.

Four months have passed since the publication of Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes, a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, (National Academies). The National Academies are the premier American institutions created by President Lincoln in 1863 to investigate issues in science for the U.S. government.

The National Academies recommends blood tests and medical monitoring for people likely to have high exposure to the toxic chemicals known as per-and poly fluoroalkyl substances, (PFAS). The National Academies specifically addresses the urgent need to reach those who are exposed through occupational routes, particularly firefighters.

Is anyone paying attention?

PFAS bioaccumulate in our bodies, meaning they don’t break down and they don’t pass though us, like most other toxins. It’s what separates PFAS from so many other carcinogens in our environment.

Many firefighters, including individuals who retired years ago, are likely to have dangerously elevated PFAS levels in their blood from exposure to the carcinogens from turnout gear, firefighting foam, and the air and dust in fire stations and airport hangars.

PFAS exposure has been linked to the following cancers, while intensive studies are ongoing, (See the links below)

Bladder cancer y
Breast cancer z
Colon cancer y
Esophageal cancer y
Kidney Cancer  x
Liver w
Mesothelioma  y
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Thyroid Cancer x
Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer  x
Pancreatic cancer v
Prostate cancer x
Testicular cancer x
Thyroid cancer x

v   PFAS
w  Chemical and Engineering News
x   National Cancer Institute
y  National Library of Medicine
z  Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

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