Community Action Works
Community Action Works

Firefighters contaminated: Ayesha’s story

Ayesha Khan’s husband Nate is a firefighter in Nantucket, Massachusetts. When he got diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, at just 38 years old, she started to look into the high rates of cancer in firefighters.

She found out that toxic chemicals were in his gear and in the firefighting foam he uses every single day.


Firefighters wear toxic gear and use toxic firefighting foam every day on the job. These toxic chemicals are called PFAS, the ‘forever’ chemicals known to cause cancer, kidney disease, and other serious health problems. But they aren’t told about PFAS, even though firefighters across the country have high rates of cancer.

And it’s not only firefighters: PFAS are estimated to be in the drinking water of 110 million people across the country, and that number could be much higher.

With a new administration in the White House, we’re ready to make ending the PFAS contamination crisis a national priority.

“We need to remove these chemicals from the gear that is supposed to protect them. We cannot let another family go through this.”
– Ayesha Khan

Ayesha formed the Nantucket PFAS Action Group to protect her community from PFAS contamination. She’s also part of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, working with other impacted communities across the country to fight for change on a national level.

Now, the coalition is fighting to make sure that the Biden Administration makes addressing PFAS a priority.

Community leaders in the coalition have a vision of a PFAS-free world where people are not exposed to any PFAS, where the environment and public health are protected, where there is justice for the victims of PFAS exposure, and where laws and regulations change to prevent contamination disasters like this from happening again.

Community leaders created a plan that President Biden can put into action to get us to that vision. And as Ayesha’s story makes clear, we don’t have time to wait.

Thanks for taking action.

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