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Firefighters’ Cancer Linked to Their “Protective” Gear

“The very gear designed to protect firefighters, to keep us safe, is killing us,” said General President Edward Kelly of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The labor union is currently suing the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Norfolk County Superior Court. The case cites NFPA’s role in imposing testing standards that require the use of PFAs or toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in gear.

The protective gear worn by our nation’s firefighters as they protect us contain PFAs – which have been linked to cancer. Occupational cancer is the cause of nearly 75% of the deaths of those honored at the 2022 Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial.

The NFPA promulgates standards regarding minimum levels of protection from the hazardous elements faced by firefighters – thermal, physical, environmental, and biological. The NFPA’s current testing includes an Ultraviolet Light Degradation (“UVD”) Test. PFAs are required in the middle moisture barrier of firefighter bunker gear as they are the only substance that can pass the UVD test. The lawsuit is seeking to hold the NFPA liable for not removing this portion of the test that has resulted in the unnecessary and dangerous exposure to PFAs.

If you or someone you know is concerned about PFAs in work protective equipment or in their work environment, the attorneys at Leonard Sciolla are here to help. Contact us today and we can help you navigate this important workplace safety issue.

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