Compensation Proposed for Military Firefighters Exposed to Foam with PFAS

Jan. 15, 2024
Representatives from Florida and Washington proposed the bill to for funding those exposed to PFAS as firefighters in the military.

Jan. 14—Two House lawmakers have proposed legislation to compensate military service members who were possibly exposed to cancer or other illnesses from chemicals used in fire retardants.

The bill introduced by Reps. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., would create a fund to aid fire crew members who were exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foams.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported last year that PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties.

"There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others," the EPA report said.

Perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate are two PFAS chemicals in foam used to fight fires on military installations.

"One common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals and the environment [from] time-laden firefighting foams, subjecting them to higher rates of cancer and other serious health effects," the EPA report said.

The proposed bill would authorize the creation of the Military Firefighters Compensation Fund. Allocation methods and amounts for the fund would be determined later.

"Caring for service members and their families is the foundation of military readiness," Strickland, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

"Our firefighters deserve our utmost gratitude for risking their health and lives in service to our communities," Posey said in the same statement. "They need our assurance that we will take care of them like they take care us."

While PFAS have been found in food containers, household products and as a soil additive, one of the most concentrated forms is as key ingredients in the firefighting foams used as an alternative to water to extinguish flames in incidents on military bases.


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