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Legislative Update – Senator Diana Dizoglio

A message from MA State Senator Diana DiZoglio

Hello again,

Our firefighters are among the most hardworking, selfless men and women in Massachusetts. These first responders operate under the most dangerous of conditions, risking their own lives to save others. For their dedication to our communities, we must do all we can to provide them with the supports they need to do this invaluable work.

That is why I filed legislation this session, Senate Bill 1576, An Act relative to the reduction of certain toxic chemicals in firefighters’ personal protective equipment, to support and protect our firefighters in a critical area.

Perfluoraolkyl and polyfluoraolkyl substances (PFAS) have for decades been used in products including Teflon, Goretex, stain-resistant carpeting, food wrappers and firefighters’ personal protective equipment (PPE). PFAS are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they take decades to break down in nature and can build up in the body. Studies have linked even very low levels of PFAS exposure in drinking water to significant health effects, including kidney and liver disease; immune, reproductive and developmental problems; high cholesterol; and certain cancers.

Despite the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recommendation that people avoid these chemicals as much as possible, we still allow PFAS to be widely used, including in firefighters’ PPE.

Our first responders are the backbone of our society. We must ensure they can perform their duties without being kept in the dark if harmful chemicals are present on the equipment we provide them. Firefighters already take on enough risk in the line of duty. It is critical that we educate them on these chemicals, make them aware of their presence and ultimately prohibit their use.

Specifically, under this legislation I have filed, manufacturers would, by January 1, 2023, be required to notify purchasers if PFAS is in the equipment of interest. As of January 1, 2025, the bill would outright ban the manufacture or sale of firefighting personal protective equipment with PFAS.

By eliminating PFAS in firefighter gear, we would not only protect the health of our first responders but also broadly reduce the use and exposure of these dangerous chemicals that impact so many in Massachusetts.

I am grateful to the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, which represents more than 12,000 firefighters across the Commonwealth, for their strong support of this legislation and hopeful we can get it to the Governor’s desk for his signature as soon as possible.

If you have any questions on this or any other issue, please feel free to contact me anytime via email at Diana.Dizoglio@masenate.gov or phone at 978-984-7747.

Yours in service,

Diana


 

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