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PFAS in firefighting gear

 January 31, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, January 31st.

The firefighters union is taking legal action over pfas in firefighting gear.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


After a couple of rainy days, the weather is expected to clear up today.

The National Weather Service says all of the rain and snowfall will be over by this afternoon.

But, it will still be chilly until tomorrow morning.

Then it’s expected to warm up through the weekend.


The city of San Diego is changing course on how it handles the ticketing and towing of vehicles.

This comes after a recent audit found that the city’s policy disproportionately affects people with lower-incomes and others who are vulnerable.

Councilmember Stephen Whitburn is leading the change.

He says he’s working to find a way to still enforce parking regulations, but in a more equitable and reasonable way that doesn’t upend people's lives.

“For many people, they simply can’t afford to get their car out of the impound because it’s invariably in hundreds of dollars, and you know what happens if you can’t get your car out of the impound… it is sold to the highest bidder, and many, many people lose their cars this way.”

Annually, the city loses more than a million dollars towing people’s cars.


Seven states that rely on water from the Colorado River have until today to agree on a plan to cut back on water use.

That includes California.

If a decision isn’t made today, the federal government will have to force the cuts.

The Colorado River can no longer meet the demand for water because of chronic overuse and climate change.

Water drawn from the river flows to more than 40 million people in the country.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


The nation’s largest firefighters union is taking legal action to get so-called “forever chemicals” out of protective clothing known as “turnouts.”

The International Association of Firefighters says those chemicals, known as pfas, cause cancer… and it has retained three law firms to try to change regulations and get pfas out of turnouts.

Deputy Chief James Gaborey with San Diego Fire and Rescue says they buy the safest gear possible.

He says San Diego has been ahead of industry standards for more than 15 years, taking steps like issuing two sets of turnouts to try to mitigate the risks.

"Dirty isn't cool any more. This is nothing new to me. My goal right now is not to be angry but is to try to help try to find a solution.”

Gaborey said he doesn't know of any equipment that is 100-percent p-fas-free.

“There is a slight trace amount which has been deemed acceptable because it’s in most places is on the moisture barrier that’s in between the outer shell and inner shell that never touches our skin …”

The firefighters’ union says about a dozen firefighters are part of the lawsuit, but they expect more.

They say over 60-percent of firefighter deaths are career-related cancers.


Thieves have stolen more than $35 million dollars from some of the state’s most vulnerable residents – because the debit cards California uses to send financial assistance are too easy to exploit.

Calmatters' reporter Jeanne Kuang says the state is trying to make it easier for these theft victims to get their money back.

I spoke with multiple people who had their benefits drained more than once, sometimes minutes after the funds hit their accounts. For some, it took weeks to get the money replaced – a delay that can mean being short on grocery money or falling behind on rent. Now, the state has reduced the number of steps victims have to take to replace the stolen benefits. But, the main problem is that electronic benefits cards don’t have security chips – which have been a consumer protection standard for years. And it’s still unclear when the state will make that upgrade – since lawmakers have to approve budget funding first.

That’s Calmatters’ Jeanne Kuang.


Coming up.... We have details on museum month in San Diego. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


Surfboards, model trains, aviation, and lots of fine art.

Those are just some of the things to see and learn about during the month of February… at a big discount!

KPBS reporter John Carroll has more on museum month 20-23.

I met up with San Diego Museum Council Executive Director Bob Lehman on a cool, sunny day in Balboa Park.  Here’s how he describes Museum Month. “A lot of fun, that’s what it’s about.” Of course, it’s also about learning, seeing and experiencing new things, or old things in new ways… something Lehman says people are yearning for, now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us. “The museums are really doing well after the Pandemic.  We have a lot of new exhibits, and there’s so many more museums participating. 15 more than last year, for a total of 60!  Museum Month started 39 years ago to make museums more accessible - more affordable for locals and visitors alike.  All participating museums and cultural institutions across the county are offering half-off admission for the next 28-days. “Go to any library, pick up your museum pass, you can see a list of all the museums right there.” The museums participating this year encompass an amazing array of things to do and see… from Oceanside where you’ll find the California Surf Museum… to the San Diego Archaeological Museum in Escon dido…  the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo… to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla… all the way down to the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista and the Tijuana Estuary in Imperial Beach… and don’t forget the new Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center… did you know that Chicano Park is the biggest mural park in the world? Whatever part of the county you want to visit, there’s so much to do.  If you want to take in several museums in a day, Balboa Park is your place… there are 17 museums and cultural institutions here.  But that leaves dozens more scattered across the county.  Among the new participants is a place downtown across the street from the Santa Fe Depot… it’s a museum like no other. “My name is Jacopo Annese…  and I’m the director of the Brain Observatory.” The Observatory is the brainchild of Jacopo Annese.  For most of his career, he was a professor in residence at UC San Diego… and the President and CEO for the Institute for Brain and Society.  He says the idea of this combination brain research lab and art gallery is to bring brain and society closer together. “I felt like I was in the university setting working behind closed doors, and I personally felt there was a lot of beauty and mystique in the work that we were doing because we work with real brains.” The Observatory just opened… and Annese says it’s still a work in progress.  But several brains are already here… brains donated by people whose life stories are well known to Annese. “Donated by people who had maybe a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s… my specialty is brain imaging.” Annese says most imaging work is an attempt to understand the characteristics of disease, how it manifests, how it progresses.  But that work is typically done by researchers who don’t have any idea about the details of a brain donor’s life.  Annese says putting those images together with a person’s life story can lead to a clearer picture of the disease and perhaps, one day, to a cure. Now, at this point, you might be asking yourself… what exactly is the connection between brains and art? “There’s two kinds of art when it comes to brains.  There is so-called neural art, which is making art out of brain images, which we have on our north wall. // And then there is the imagining, so going from imaging to imagining, that’s what artists do, using introspection, using imagination and I think that there is a potential in asking artists to team up with scientists to discover how the brain works.  // and it’s very possible that if you don’t make artists feel like intruders in your lab, they could actually contribute with insight.” In the near future, Annese says you’ll be able to watch researchers doing work on brains, while at the same time, seeing art informed by their work. Back to Balboa Park and Bob Lehman pointed out a new feature of this year’s Museum Month.  Beginning on February 6th, you can either go online and download your pass, good for up to 4 people, or you can scan a QR code on the paper passes, available at more than 80-libraries throughout the county.  Then - get ready for whatever museum experience you choose. “What I encourage people to do is make a day of it, so if you’re gonna go someplace, you’re gonna go up to Oceanside or you’re gonna go to the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas, well plan to go to lunch while you’re doing it, or have a dinner, just make a day of that adventure and just have fun.” From brains to boats, trains to planes, you can find it all in museums and cultural institutions across San Diego County - and all at a 50% discount during Museum Month 2023.  JC, KPBS News.


Samoas, Tagalongs, Thin Mints… yes.. it’s Girl Scout Cookie season.

KPBS reporter Melissa Mae tells us about a special community service project that helps send cookies to military troops overseas.

MM: They’re back! Girl Scout cookies are now on sale in San Diego and Imperial counties… and the Girl Scouts say there’s no supply shortage like last year. MM: Carol Dedrich is the CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego and says the San Diego council launched a very special community service project back in 2002. CD  “Operation Thin Mint came out of an idea of how do we connect the largest program that we have, with community service and supporting our military, so all of it came together and voila! we have Operation Thin Mint!” MM:Currently, Operation Thin Mint has sent 3.8 million boxes of cookies to our military overseas and Girl Scout San Diego hopes to reach 4 million during this year’s cookie program that runs through March 12th. The Operation Thin Mint sendoff is on April 14th. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


Jason Magabo Perez is San Diego’s new poet laureate.

He’s the author of two hybrid poetry collections and has another in the works.

He’s a graduate of UC-SD, and is now director of the Ethnic Studies program at Cal State San Marcos.

Perez spoke with KPBS Midday Edition producer Harrison Patiño about his role as poet laureate.

You made your debut as poet laureate at the State of the City address earlier this month with a poem titled “We Draft Work Songs For This City.” I’m hoping we could start by having you read a selection from that poem?

Thank you, that was beautiful… Can you tell us more about that poem? What does it mean to you, and why did you choose it for the state of the city address?

I understand you first became interested in poetry as a college student. What was that introduction like?

Your personal family history has also had a profound effect on your work, specifically when your mother, Leonora Perez, was framed by the FBI in the 70s. Could you tell us more about your mother’s story and how that’s influenced your work?

Your role as poet laureate will also include cultivating relationships with the community and telling stories across San Diego. Do you hope to make poetry more accessible through this work?

That was San Diego poet laureate, Jason Magabo Perez, speaking with KPBS’s Harrison Patiño.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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The nation’s largest firefighters union is taking legal action to get so-called “forever chemicals” out of firefighting gear. In other news, we have details on museum month in San Diego. Plus, San Diego’s new poet laureate talks about his new role.