Read the full article by Sarah Carlon (Cape Cod Times)

“Hyannis and Fall River firefighters broke a sweat for science last week on Nantucket, participating in tests measuring PFAS absorption from turnout gear.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is an umbrella term for a group of man-made chemicals that have been used across consumer products since the 1950s as a water-, grease-, and stain-repellent. 

Often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ for their ability to stay in the body for a long time and their inability to break down easily in the environment, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) warn that exposure to PFAS can harm the body, including increased cholesterol, risk of high blood pressure and kidney or testicular cancer.

Chief Peter Burke of the Hyannis Fire Department said  PFAS can appear several ways in the lives of firefighters, but most notably in foam used to put out fires and also in the turnout gear worn on the job.

The CDC put firefighters, alongside chemical manufacturing workers and ski wax technicians, as a profession particularly vulnerable to PFAS exposure and absorption, which raises the risk of harm caused by the chemicals.

‘There’s definitely a lack of clarity with the long-term effects of PFAS,’ Burke said. ‘Any chance we have to get some actionable information, we are gonna take it.’

The Nantucket PFAS Action Group, a coalition that educates and provides resources about impact the chemicals have on the island, received a grant from the University of Massachusetts’ Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) to gather more information on PFAS in firefighter gear and its effects on those who wear it.”…