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Originally published January 26 2009

Fire-Resistant Clothing Suspected in Heavy Metal Poisoning

by Susanne Morrone, C.N.C.

(NaturalNews) Firefighters willingly face many dangers and challenges while heroically saving others` lives. One they hadn`t seen coming is heavy metal poisoning possibly linked to chemically-treated uniforms. According to Florida`s Palm Beach Post, January 16, 2009, there`s unease among three Florida-based fire departments over antimony, a toxic heavy metal. The first agency reporting health problems was Boca Raton. Now, Tamarac and Hillsboro County are participating in the research . These were the only Florida locations issued chemically-treated pants with the brand-name FireWear.

The Boca department has issued FireWear garments with antimony as a key ingredient for at least 15 years. Hair analysis performed last fall on 30 of 36 city firefighters found elevated levels of antimony. Similar to arsenic but more toxic, antimony is commonly found in fireproofing plastics and textiles. Other sources are rubber manufacturing, glass, ceramics, cigarette paper, gunpowder, paint, older cooking materials and dental materials.

Fire Capt. John Luca, president of the Boca Raton firefighters union, made this statement: "At least 50 Boca Raton firefighters are now complaining of strange symptoms, and many more have suffered unexplained ailments during the past several years." Luca himself has been suffering from unexplained weakness, tremors and paralysis in his toes. He has no doubt that the pants were causing the firefighters` health problems.

The pant`s manufacturer, Springs Protective Fabrics, is no longer in business. They offered a laundering advisory to "always wash FireWear separately from your family laundry." Also, it was recommended to "wash at temperatures no higher than 112 degrees, and dry at the lowest setting." Their documents included research stating that heat can cause the release of antimony gases.
Capt. Luca said his fellow firefighters never saw the advisory, and are concerned about the possible exposures to their families. Two of those firefighters, Bill Puchalski and his wife, Capt. Kim Puchalski, paid to have their 6-year-old son`s hair tested and found he, too, showed elevated levels of antimony.

Leading the CDC`s investigation into the firefighters` case is Dr. Marie de Perio. She commented: "We currently do not have any evidence to suggest the pants are causing high levels of antimony. We have our work cut out for us." She also said investigators are reserving judgment until they can do a urine test, an approach that eliminates the possibility of external contamination that comes with hair testing. While the Boca investigation ensues, Tamarac and Hillsboro have switched to cotton pants.

Heavy metal poisoning is more common than most people realize. Routes of exposure may be inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. Prevalent toxic metal sources are drinking water, vaccinations, personal care and laundry products, pesticides and herbicides, tobacco smoke, medications, food, and occupational/industrial exposure. Toxic minerals interfere with biological functions when they accumulate in excess.

The EPA provides a well researched answer as to why hair measurement is highly-valued: "The milk, urine, saliva and sweat measure the component that is absorbed but excreted. Blood measures the component absorbed and temporarily in circulation before excretion and/or storage. The hair, nails and teeth are tissues in which trace minerals are sequestered and/or stored."

Palm Beach Post, January 16, 2009 "Chemical Concerns Cause Two More Fire Departments to stop using fire-resistant pants."
Environmental Protection Agency "Biological Monitoring of Trace Metals," EPA-600/3-80-089

About the author

Susanne Morrone, C.N.C., is an author, speaker and natural health educator. Her book, "The Best Little Health Book Ever," is the quintessential natural health primer. She is also included in "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health" by Her mission and educational outreach is found at

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