Md. lawmaker joins effort to protect firefighters from ‘forever chemicals’

Congressman Glenn Ivey, D-Md., who represents much of Prince George’s County, Maryland, is part of a group of bipartisan lawmakers pushing for new legislation that would fund the development of turnout gear for firefighters free of PFAS, which are also known as “forever chemicals.”

“They’re already putting their lives at risk to fight fires. We don’t want to put them at risk just from the gear that’s supposed to be saving their lives,” Ivey said at a news conference last week at PGFD Fire Station 802 in Capitol Heights.

Materials with PFAS — which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — were first used in the 1940s and are still in hundreds of products, including in all three layers of firefighters’ personal protective gear.

The EPA says that while scientific research on the dangers of PFAS is still ongoing, studies do show that exposure to certain levels of PFAS may lead to increased risk of certain cancers, reproductive harms in women and developmental delays in children, among other ill health effects.

The PFAS Alternatives Act, introduced by Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell would authorize $25 million a year through 2028, for the development of PFAS-free firefighter gear.

“This is one of those bills that both parties ought to be able to come together,” Ivey said. “I’m confident if we get the bill done, the President will sign it.”

PFAS has also been found at dozens of U.S. military bases across the country.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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