EWG PFAS Conference
Bryan Goodman Speech Transcript
First, I would like to thank the Environmental Working Group for inviting me to share my personal story and opinions. It’s an honor to be included amongst these accomplished speakers. Today, I will be representing myself and not any department or municipality. My name is Bryan Goodman. I’m a 14-year Fire Lieutenant. I spent 11 years at some of the busiest houses in the nation. As a firefighter, I have been heavily exposed to PFAS. This exposure has led to my infertility.
I’ve had an occupational exposure 33% of the year, every year, for 14 years. Today, my goal is to protect my fellow brother and sister firefighters and the individuals we serve across the country from having to experience what I have.
Before I go into my story, I’d like for a moment to go slightly off-script. I’d like you all to imagine meeting your perfect significant other. Imagine meeting them — your best friend and the love of your life in your early thirties and getting married. Imagine you both have work tirelessly on your education and your careers to elevate yourself. Imagine you both are in service professions and are proud about the opportunity to give back to your community. All this; only to find out a few years later, you can’t give your significant other a child due to chemicals that are saturated in Firefighter protective gear and station uniforms. This is where my story starts.
In May 2020, my wife and I thought our dream of having a family was about to come true. My wife was 10 days late but never showed a positive pregnancy test. She informed me she thought she was having a miscarriage. Unfortunately, all this was taking place during a global pandemic. We immediately called my wife’s OB to be told that they weren’t accepting patients. After many phone calls, her doctor finally agreed to see her. Initially, the focus was on my wife. After many invasive and humiliating tests, no abnormalities were found. We never found out whether she had a miscarriage.
The focus turned to me. Multiple blood tests and semen analyses were ordered. Ultimately the results from those tests were heartbreaking. They found no sperm and noted abnormal hormones What followed still seems like a blur.
First, I had a Brain MRI, which showed a tiny benign tumor on my pituitary gland. This was ultimately ruled out as an issue. Then came genetic testing. No Abnormalities were found, and no deletions were noted on my chromosomes. I had a total of 6 semen analyses; I had my blood drawn 14 times for hormone testing and monitoring. The only abnormalities found were with testosterone and estradiol — neither of which to this day I can control.
I had a testicular biopsy that looked for sperm and cancer. They found neither. I had been placed on hormone therapy and chemo to try and control the testosterone and estradiol levels. Both were ineffective. Three months after the biopsy was performed, I had micro-testicular sperm extraction surgery. My testicles, widely considered one of the more sensitive parts of the male anatomy, were surgically operated on 2x in 3 months. The Pathology result of the Micro-TESE was Sertoli cell-only syndrome with an unknown cause. Sertoli cell-only is often a precursor for testicular cancer.
Over the next few months, 3 critical pieces of information came in. First, my liver enzymes showed borderline Non-Alcoholic fatty liver disease. From the work of Dr. Angela Slitt, we know this could indicate elevated levels of PFAS. Next, we received confirmation from Dr. Peaslee on the presence of PFAS in my turnout gear. Then, we received the results from my PFAS blood test. Out of the 9252 known PFAS. I was only tested for 6. I popped positive for 4. My wife and I often try and focus on situations and not numbers. However, today I will tell you that my PFHxS levels are 162X higher than the reporting limits. The problem with PFAS outside of it causing cancer, infertility, and a litany of other diseases, is the half-life. If I left the fire service today, my PFHxS levels would take 5 years to drop 50%.
Firefighters work in a profession where we regularly miss family outings, birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries to serve our community. My wife is required to share her husband with that community for 33% of the year. She has never complained and never wavered in her support. However, this was one of those things we were never willing to give up.
Because of PFAS, we can’t have a family in the traditional sense. However, I am happy that we still have options; we are exploring those and looking to move forward on having a family.
As I share my story with you today, firefighters across our nation will be responding to help folks that are having their absolute worst day. They will do it without thinking twice. It’s hard for me to accept in a profession where we voluntarily sacrifice so much, that now we must sacrifice our fertility and health due to chemicals we don’t even need in our gear.
Thank you all for your time and thank you for allowing me to share my story.