Volunteer firefighters — who comprise more than 65 percent of the U.S. fire service — have higher levels of “forever chemicals,” per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in their bodies than the general public, according to a Rutgers study.
The study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, compared the levels of nine PFAS chemicals in the blood of volunteer firefighters against levels in the general population.
It is the first study to evaluate volunteer firefighters’ exposure to PFAS, which are chemicals that accumulate in human bodies and in the environment and are found in everyday items like electronics and carpeting. PFAS have been associated with numerous health conditions that impact firefighters, including cardiovascular disease. Increasing evidence has linked them to cancer.