Fighting to Protect the Brave: Video Highlights Researcher Probing Toxic Chemicals in Firefighter PPE

Graham Peaslee at FDIC International
Notre Dame/YouTube

A recent video released by the University of Notre Dame highlighted the work done by researcher Graham Peaslee in investigating the presence of toxic chemicals in firefighter gear.

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 personal protective equipment (PPE). 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.

The video also shows the efforts of Diane Cotter to raise awareness of this issue, with some scenes filmed at FDIC International, an annual firefighter training conference held in Indianapolis that is produced by Fire Engineering and Clarion Events.

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