According to a new study Volunteer firefighters who comprise more than 65% of the U.S. fire service have higher levels of Forever Chemicals in their bodies than the general public. The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study compared the levels of nine per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances chemicals in the blood of volunteer firefighters against levels in the general population.
This is the first study conducted to evaluate volunteer firefighters’ exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are chemicals that accumulate in human bodies and in the environment, they are also found in everyday items like electronics and carpeting. These Forever Chemicals are associated with numerous health conditions that impact firefighters, including cardiovascular disease. Many evidence has linked them to cancer.
Judith Graber, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health and a faculty member at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and the lead author of the study said that the primary cause of line-of-duty death among firefighters is heart attacks. They are affected by many types of cancer more often than other people. More than 95% of the U.S. population have these Forever Chemicals to some degree in their bodies. Firefighters have heightened exposure to chemical substances through their protective gear and fire suppression foam and the burning materials they encounter that release particle, which can be inhaled or settle on gear and skin.
The researchers also found that the levels of two of the chemicals studied, perfluorododecanoic acid and perfluorodecanoic acid were higher in volunteer firefighters. The lead author also added that the level of PFDoA levels in 80% of the firefighters, but little in the general public.