New law tests Indiana firefighters for PFAS

Firefighting is dangerous enough without the addition of toxic chemicals.

Many firefighting foams contain toxic PFAS chemicals.

By Shannon Halinski

Soon, Indiana firefighters could get testing for PFAS contamination thanks to a new law. Indiana Public Law 132, enacted May 1, 2023, directs the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to establish a PFAS pilot biomonitoring program. The program aims to test the blood of up to a 1000 current or former firefighters, looking for PFAS.

PFAS is a class of dangerous “forever” chemicals that don’t break down in nature and are known to accumulate in humans. They have been linked to numerous adverse health conditions, including four different types of cancer. 

Firefighters are exposed to PFAS more often than the average person because their gear and firefighting foam contains PFAS. Cancer has been the leading cause of in-line-of-duty death for firefighters since 2002, and some researchers have speculated that exposure to PFAS and other harmful chemicals could be a contributing factor. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has found that firefighters have a higher risk for cancer than the general population, including higher risks for specific cancers that have been linked to PFAS exposure.

Lawmakers are hopeful the new law will help firefighters manage their risk. 

Representative Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, a retired firefighter for 26 years, stated “Being a career firefighter, I’m concerned PFAS may be in my bloodstream and cause me to have cancer.” 

Firefighters already have a difficult job, and shouldn’t have to face toxic threats while they’re keeping us safe. That’s one reason we are working to turn off the tap on these toxic PFAS chemicals.


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