via Harvard Chan School of Pubic Health

~ Firehouse PFAS Dust Study ~ Collaboration of Dr’s Anna Young, Joseph Allen, Emily Sparer-Fine of Harvard Chan’s Public School of Health, and Dr. Graham Peaslee of University of Notre Dame

The study. You may download from Last Call Foundation Honoring Firefighter Michael Kennedy.

Diane Cotter
4 min readFeb 5, 2021


My Statement to Dave Abel of the Boston Globe statement did not appear in the printed article none the less this is how the study came about and why I’m steadfast in resolve that firefighters are exposed to this invisible health risk …

“Back in 2018 — when we were formalizing our PFAS in turnout gear study with University of Notre Dame nuclear physicist, Dr Graham Peaslee, and while we were seeking additional funding for the project, Paul and I reached out to Kathy Crosby-Bell of Last Call Foundation Honoring Firefighter Michael Kennedy of Boston.

Kathy was entertaining funding our project but wanted to meet Graham personally. Graham was in Massachusetts for a speaking engagement and we would arrange to meet at a firehouse nearby. While there, Graham would have a tour of a firehouse and would get to see where gear was stored, and talk with the firefighters in the firehouse that day.

While walking in the open bay, Graham would spot a ‘dust-particle collection box’ on the top of a vending machine. Graham would immediately recognize the device and the name of the researcher, Emily Sparer-Fine who is well known in the fire service for her work.

During the firehouse visit, Graham would wonder if Emily was collecting PFAS for her study. I was already communicating with Emily regarding the turnout gear PFAS issue and offered to ask. Emily was not currently testing for PFAS but was willing to do so.

Today at 3am was my first glimpse at the dust study that we have waited long for.. I’m not a scientist, but over the last 6 years of my work in this I do know when I see numbers in the ppb and ppm range it concerns me greatly. The combined health effects of the many PFAS we see in this study and how they effect a firefighter are yet unknown.

This is why we must have the studies Rob Bilott is demanding for first responders and is currently suing for. We do know many of these PFAS are well studied. And we know the e PFOA and PFOS are connected to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and some studies show their connection to prostate and Non-hodkin lymphoma, all prevalent in the fire service. What also concerns me greatly is the precursors that will degrade to form PFOA and PFOS.

We are calling on Congress to act today to remove the burden of replacing PFAS laden turnout gear from cities and towns, to set up a fund whereby DuPont and other manufactures fund new safe turnout gear to our firefighters, to recall and replace all turnout gear at the expense of DuPont and others who knew and went to great lengths to keep information from firefighters. To investigate ‘who knew what and when did they know it’, as these same manufacturers sat silent in our safety standards institution the National Fire Protection Association.

There is no other occupation where wearing PFAS laden gear in amounts ‘never before seen’ nuclear physicist Graham Peaslee would be acceptable. To add to that the route of exposure via dust and to not act immediately is an insult to America’s Bravest. “

Diane Cotter ~

During the process of our Last Call Foundation turnout gear study, one of the areas Dr Peaslee studied was the ‘dust’ from a PPE work room. Read from our June 2020 peer reviewed study. Download here at the LCF website:

From page 9 of Supporting Info from the Notre Dame Dust Study, the PPE Handling Room:


Diane Cotter ~



Diane Cotter

A very private individual who fell into a very public rabbit hole of epic proportions. I call it the #greatestdeceptionever - really, EVER.