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Burning fires, burning lungs

Thursday, October 17, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Climate activist Paul Robbins came to the Oct. 7 meeting of the Public Safety Commission to alert commissioners to the dangers firefighters and first responders face. Beyond the obvious hazards associated with the profession, Robbins pointed out that heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that are used in building materials can leach into the air when they burn. “Some can also be acutely toxic,” he said. These toxins sequester themselves in the body fat of humans and animals and can harm the long-term health of those who breathe in the poisonous fumes. He asked the commission to consider discussing a “ban or discourag(ing) toxic building materials.” Commission Chair Ed Scruggs said that as a topic that affects first responders in fire situations, the subject is definitely one of interest. “This will come back as an agenda item very soon,” he said.

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