PFAS Scientific and Legislative Updates Regarding Firefighting PPE

Aug 18, 2020 | Environmental, PFAS, Toxic Tort

We previously reported on a scientific study published by researchers at the University of Notre Dame regarding the possibility that PFAS may infiltrate through firefighting PPE and into the bloodstream of firefighters, as well as federal legislation proposed to require NIOSH to study the extent of PFAS exposure through firefighting turnout gear. While certainly the two most recent examples of science and politics commenting on PFAS in the firefighting field in some way, they are certainly not the only examples.


Earlier this year, a study was published that addressed the potential for PFAS exposure specifically in female firefighters and office workers in the San Francisco area. (Exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Substances In a Cohort of Women Firefighters and Office Workers In San Francisco, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 6, 3363–3374). The study did provide opinions on any causal connections between any health issues in the cohort and the PFAS levels detected.  Rather, it merely summarized findings of PFAS levels detected in the blood of cohort members.

Recently, researchers at the University of Arizona, in collaboration with the University of Miami and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), received a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to study occupational exposures to PFASs in firefighters (Kelly, 2020). The study will involve measuring different PFAS levels in the blood and urine of firefighters in order to assess the significance of PFAS exposures through PPE versus other exposure pathways.


A handful of states have already introduced or passed legislation aimed at curbing the use of PFAS in firefighting PPE and turnout gear. Most significantly, New York, Colorado, and Washington now require manufacturers of PPE to disclose if the products contain PFAS. Massachusetts and California, along with a few other states, are considering similar legislation. Other states are considering laws that would ban PFAS entirely from firefighting PPE. The Massachusetts bill in particular, presented by Representative James K. Hawkins, is one that our PFAS team has watched closely, and we recently invited Representative Hawkins to participate in a webinar hosted by our PFAS team, during which he addressed the pending legislation.

CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, and administrative developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.

Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.

Authored By:

John Gardella, Esq.


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