Firefighters daily risk their lives while they protect their communities. Their health and safety are often at risk, although firefighters must maintain high levels of physical fitness.
The toxic chemicals used to fight fires can cause serious health concerns. Many men and women suffer due to their fire department’s use of toxic firefighting foam.
Protecting others could be harmful to yourself and the environment
There are dangerous chemicals in firefighting foam. Over time, these chemicals can build up in your body and cause cancer or hormonal changes. They can also hurt the environment.
As a firefighter, you experience exposure to these dangerous chemicals in the foam you use to put out fires and in your water-resistant gear. But the debates about firefighting foam can affect entire communities.
There are unknown risks in the military’s plans to burn toxic firefighting foam
Both civilian and military firefighters have experience using toxic foam to put out fires. But the military’s plans to destroy their reserve may create an environmental problem.
The United States Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Army and Navy bases plan to burn more than three million gallons of firefighting foam. However, there is little research to confirm the safety of burning these chemicals. And some may not trust the findings of a study conducted by 3M, who developed the foam with the Navy in the 1960s.
The potential concerns about burning the foam include:
- Furans and dioxins, which are both known to cause cancer
- Hydrofluoric acid, which can burn your skin on contact
- Perfluoroisobutylene, which could kill you when you inhale it
Heritage Thermal Services burned some of the hazardous waste along the Ohio River, through an agreement with the Defense Department. But there were already multiple concerns of safety violations at this facility, in addition to burning these toxic chemicals.
If you are a firefighter or live near the Heritage plant, you should consider whether your health conditions result from the chemicals in firefighting foam. If that is the case, you may be able to take legal action.