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Fighting to Protect the Brave

Thu Oct 10, 2019
When firefighters run into a burning building, they know the dangers associated with their job. But new research suggests firefighters are at risk before they ever leave the firehouse.Using a spectroscopic technique and the St. Andre particle accelerator, Notre Dame professor Graham Peaslee has found alarming amounts of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighter gear. These chemicals have been linked to elevated rates of cancer and have also been found in fast-food wrappers, cosmetics, drinking water, carpet and flame retardants. He is now working to test many years of new and used gear to better assess the risks for firefighters.Professor Peaslee’s work in this area has encouraged several companies to reduce or eliminate PFAS, and the EPA and state legislators have also made policy changes. He hopes this new study will make firefighters safer, so they can continue to keep all of us safe.