(KERO) — The gear firefighters wear to protective them from flames, is now being linked to the high rate of cancer cases among firefighters.
The firefighter national unions say new studies show the gear contains harmful chemicals called PFAS linked to cancer.
The international association of firefighters along with metro chiefs say recent studies have shown their turnout gear, has these "forever chemicals."
Cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters. The Cancer and Health Coordinator for the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department, Kyle O'neil knows this all too well. He was diagnosed with the condition himself.
He says the fire gear the city uses has been PFAS-free for the last two years.
"The PPE that we purchase does not have the same PFAS's chemicals that there's concern about," said O'neil.
He adds that one way to decrease the risk is to store gear outside of firehouse living areas and only wear it when its necessary.
The union now says they're dedicated to continue working to remove these dangerous chemicals from fire gear and are in continuing discussions with manufacturers.
But for now, they're warning about the serious health concerns.