09.20.19

Gardner, Shaheen Announce New Legislation to Address Health Concerns Regarding PFAS Exposure through Firefighter Turnout Gear

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today announced the introduction of their new bipartisan legislation, the Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act, which would take important steps to address health concerns regarding firefighter’s occupational exposure to harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals through their personal protective gear.

Specifically, the legislation would authorize a comprehensive study of the personal protective equipment worn by firefighters to determine the identity and concentration of PFAS, as well as firefighters’ risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals from the gear. The legislation also establishes a federal grant program to advance the development of safe alternatives to PFAS chemicals in personal protective equipment.

“Our firefighters and emergency responders in Colorado and around the country risk everything to protect our communities, and it is our duty to make sure we have accurate research to understand and mitigate any PFAS exposure during emergency response and training activities,” said Senator Gardner. “This bipartisan legislation will authorize a study through the National Institute of Standards and Technology to gather data regarding the concentration of PFAS in emergency responders’ protective gear and fund research in to alternatives to the chemicals that will reduce or eliminate the possibility of PFAS exposure.”

“Firefighters have enough to worry about when they’re on duty—the last thing they should be concerned with is the safety of their own protective gear,” said Senator Shaheen. “We know PFAS is in certain types of firefighting foam, which means our firefighters are already more likely to face exposure. With research indicating these harmful chemicals have also been found in firefighters’ personal protective equipment, it’s imperative that Congress take action to keep our first responders safe. This bipartisan bill will deliver the answers we need and fund the efforts necessary to develop alternatives to PFAS in equipment so our firefighters can do their jobs safely and efficiently. Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities – they should have access to the information and equipment they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and that’s precisely what this legislation will help do.”

Senator Gardner’s actions to address PFAS:

 

  • Introduced bipartisan legislation to direct federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit, and prevent exposure to PFAS.
  • Included provisions in the NDAA to provide resources for PFAS pollution cleanup to ensure clean and safe drinking water.
  • Sen. Gardner announced a $1.9 million EPA grant for Colorado School of Mines to address PFAS contamination.
  • Introduced a PFAS Action Plan of 2019 with Senator Bennet and a bipartisan group of colleagues.

  

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.