A study found that female firefighters in San Francisco have higher concentrations of certain cancer-linked chemicals in their blood than women in other occupations, reports The Mercury News.
The study was sparked when breast cancer hit the San Francisco Fire Department in 2012.
PFAS chemicals are in many household items: food packaging, furniture, carpets — they can even be detected in drinking water. Because the chemicals degrade so slowly, they persist in the environment and human tissues.
Women comprise about 5% of the firefighters across the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because their numbers are so few, they’re often excluded from studies about the health risks of firefighting. But of the 1,600 firefighters in San Francisco, nearly 300 are women — the highest percentage in the nation.