Statement: PFAS Firefighter Protection Act takes on dangerous ‘forever chemicals’

Media Contacts
Sean Hoffmann

Former Federal Legislative Advocate, Environment America

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-5) introduced the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act into the Senate and the House this week. The bill aims to ban firefighting foams made with a class of toxic chemicals commonly referred to as PFAS. Firefighting foams, frequently used at airports and military installations, are one of the major sources of PFAS groundwater contamination in the United States. The bill would ensure that such foams are no longer in use within two years from the date it is passed.

PFAS don’t break down in the environment, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” Research links PFAS exposure in humans to cancer, immune system deficiencies, high cholesterol and low fertility, and even developmental issues in children and infants. Moreover, the health impacts of PFAS are magnified because the chemicals accumulate in air, soil, water and our own bodies and persist in the environment indefinitely.

If passed, the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act would build on previously enacted legislation supported by Environment America and U.S. PIRG that ordered the Defense Department to phase out the use of PFAS-containing foams by October, 2024.

In response, experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG released the following statements:

Sean Hoffmann, Environment America Federal Legislative advocate, said:

“Environment America applauds the introduction of this important legislation aimed at protecting our firefighters, environment and communities from pervasive, toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ Not only will the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act ensure our firefighters aren’t needlessly exposed to harmful, cancer-causing PFAS, but it will also protect our communities from the inevitable groundwater contamination that comes from the use of PFAS-containing foams. We urge Congress to pass this commonsense legislation that will help keep both our firefighters and our communities safe from unnecessary exposure to dangerous PFAS.”

Emily Rogers, U.S. PIRG Zero Out Toxics advocate, said:

“The PFAS Firefighter Protect Act is long overdue. Already, virtually all Americans have PFAS in their blood. We have no time to waste in phasing out the use of PFAS as quickly and as widely as possible. We applaud Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. Kildee for speaking out for our firefighters and our communities and look forward to working to help get this important legislation across the finish line to fight the pervasive threat of these ‘forever chemicals’.”