By Bill Carey
INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill establishing a pilot program aimed at monitoring polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) exposure among firefighters across the state.
The newly enacted House Enrolled Act 1219 creates a pilot program under the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The program's objective is to monitor the levels of PFAS in the blood of thousands of current and former firefighters, WNDU reported.
These chemicals pose a significant risk to firefighters as they are frequently exposed to them and there is a known link between PFAS exposure and cancer. Cancer is often listed as the primary cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service.
State Representative Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) authored the legislation, which received approval from both chambers last month. The bill will officially take effect on July 1.
Representative Bauer issued the following statement after the signing:
"From signing House Enrolled Act 1219 into law to leading the way on PFAS foam collection efforts across the state, Gov. Eric Holcomb has shown that he is committed to reducing workplace hazards for firefighters. As my community of South Bend continues to mourn the loss of several firefighters to occupational cancer in recent years, the PFAS testing pilot program will finally give firefighters a tool to know their own cancer risk early on and help prevent future late-stage diagnoses. I am grateful to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Professional Firefighter Union of Indiana, the South Bend Fire Department and South Bend Firefighters Local 362 for championing this bill through the legislative process, as it now becomes law in Indiana."