Forever chemicals in firefighter training foam

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Firefighters risk their lives rushing into burning homes to save others, but a new lawsuit suggests that there are hidden dangers for our crews and the environments they train in.

Until recently, many firefighting foams, including PFAs and PFOs, synthetic chemicals, have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, and other health issues.

They’re also known by the name Forever Chemicals. Not only do they persist in our bodies but in the environment, soil, groundwater and surface water.

South Trail Fire is the most recent in a series of lawsuits against the makers of the foam.

When North Collier firefighters train, soapy water comes out of their hoses. It saves the department money and may save lives as well.

In the past, departments used fire retardants packed with PFAs. Testing from the Department of Environmental Protection showed the forever chemicals in soil, ground and surface water all over fire department training areas at departments across the state.

Most recently, testing showed the numbers were through the roof in soil around South Trail Fire.

The suit is against dozens of designers, makers, and distributors of the toxic foam.

Claims most of the groups knowingly distributed the dangerous product without proper warning and knew its risks for quite some time.

The lawsuit says, “In 1981, DuPont tested for and found PFOs in the blood of female plant workers in Parkersburg, West Virginia. DuPont observed and documented pregnancy outcomes in exposed workers, finding two of seven children born to female plant workers between 1979 and 1981 had birth defects.”

In December 2005, the EPA uncovered evidence that DuPont concealed the environmental and health effects of PFOs, and the EPA announced the “largest environmental administrative penalty in agency history.”

That’s just one of the 49 defendants.

WINK reached out to DuPont de Nemours for comment, and part of their response said, “We believe this complaint is without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending our record of safety, health and environmental stewardship.”

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