for firefighters

The Diagnose Early PFAS FAQ

Why we make PFAS testing a core part of our service

PFAS compounds are rapidly becoming as infamous as asbestos once was.

non invasive biometrics, Health Data Platform


PFAS testing is a key element of Diagnose Early's Firefighter Health 360 and Plus services. This is because PFAS has been increasingly linked with a whole range of serious problems from reproductive health issues to cancer. Firefighters are known to be at far higher risk of exposure due to the ubiquitous nature of PFAS in turnout gear and AFFF.

What are PFAS chemicals?

PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large family of man-made “forever chemicals”. They have long been used in manufacturing for their useful chemical properties, such as being non-stick and being able to repel water.

Where are PFAS found?

PFAS compounds were once viewed as wonder chemicals thanks to their chemical stability and desirable properties. This led to them being used in almost every conceivable industrial process and in many consumer products. This has also led to large-scale environmental pollution.

Why is this relevant to firefighters?

The unique properties of PFAS saw them used in numerous firefighting applications. For decades, they have been the key ingredient in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) used to fight fuel fires. They are used in the manufacture of firefighter’s turnout gear to improve heat transfer and moisture wicking. In the old days, some firefighters even soaked their kit in these chemicals because it helped them cope with the extreme conditions inside burning structures.

Are PFAS compounds dangerous?

Evidence is increasingly linking PFAS exposure to significant adverse health outcomes. These include several forms of cancer as well as reproductive health issues and organ damage among others. As a result, it is important to understand which PFAS substances are present in your body and in what quantities. 

How can I measure which PFAS compounds are in my body

The usual approach for this is for a nurse or phlebotomist to draw a vial of blood from you which is then subjected to detailed toxicological analysis. However, there are other options available, including ones that only require a few drops of blood. In most cases, these tests can only identify a small number of PFAS compounds and these may not be the ones you were exposed to as a firefighter. See blog for advice on choosing a PFAS test as a firefighter.

How does Diagnose Early intend to monitor PFAS exposure?

Diagnose Early has developed a minimally invasive monitoring solution for PFAS. We provide this testing as part of our broader health data platform for firefighters. Our lab developed tests can identify the presence of PFAS within your body. We collect a few drops of blood from one of your finger tips using a special sampling device. This is then sent to our central laboratory where we use advanced liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify 20+ PFAS compounds. We focus on compounds that are found in turnout gear and AFFF. The test results are available a couple of days after the sample is sent to the lab.

All the  data we collect is added to the DxE Health Data Platform. This is an AI-powered platform that allows us to track your health as it evolves over time. This gives you new insights into the factors that may be adversely affecting your overall health and wellbeing.

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