Firefighter Paul Cotter faced all manner of risks in his 28 years on the job—collapsing buildings, smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion, mental stress. But there was one threat he never considered: the protective garments he wore when responding to calls.
Firefighters’ “bunker gear” contains significant amounts of chemicals known as PFAS, so-called “forever chemicals” that are linked a host of health problems, including prostate cancer—which Cotter battled.
“No one had ever heard of it before,” Cotter said of PFAS in gear.
Recent lawsuits and legislation have focused primarily on the alleged health risks presented by fire-suppressing foams, some of which also ...