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PFAS and the Fire Service: What You Should Know

Thursday, April 27
First responders are hearing a lot about a group of chemicals called PFAS: Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances. They are showing up regularly in the news these days, and firefighters seem to be at ground zero for many of the stories. This class will explain the basics of what these chemicals are, how they work, where they are used, and why there are so many concerns about them and human health. It will review what is known about PFAS in Class B aqueous film-forming foams and exposure to firefighters as well as their fate in the environment. It will also look at PFAS use in consumer products including textiles. Firefighting turnout gear also contains PFAS, and this is a possible source of exposure as well. Recent results of this research will be presented, together with an assessment of what can be done to minimize risk to firefighters. The class will include a short documentary by award-winning filmmaker Elijah Yetter-Bowman outlining the health risks associated with the "forever chemicals" or PFAS involved in turnout gear.'
Graham Peaslee, Professor - University of Notre Dame