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Photo of worn firefighter turnout gear

Results of First 2 National Institute of Standards and Technology Studies on PFAS in Turnout Gear

Posted: Feb. 1, 2024

2 min read
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the second part of a 4-part study to identify a firefighter’s relative risk of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) released from their protective gear.

  • Part 1: May 2023: “Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in New Firefighter Turnout Gear Textiles” (NIST Technical Note 2248) measured PFAS levels in new, off-the-shelf firefighter turnout gear, including jackets, pants, gloves, helmets and self-contained breathing apparatus.
    • This study found that the amount of PFAS present varies widely between manufacturers and layers, but the highest PFAS concentrations were consistently observed in the outermost 2 layers of turnout coats and pants.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a category of manufactured chemicals used in turnout gear to enhance its safety and performance. These chemicals have thermal stability and increase the ability of textiles to resist oil and water.

Why should firefighters care about PFAS?

PFAS have been linked to cancer and other adverse health effects. Studies have shown that firefighters have higher levels of some types of PFAS in their blood due to their increased exposure to these substances when compared to the general population.

Why is the National Institute of Standards and Technology studying PFAS?

There are both risks and benefits to using PFAS in turnout gear, so NIST set out to measure the levels of specific types of PFAS in specific components of turnout gear, under a variety of conditions, in order to determine the actual exposure risks to firefighters.


This article is based on content in the
Feb. 1, 2024 InfoGram.

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