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Bauer’s bill to test firefighters for PFAS exposure passes out of the House

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Today, Rep. Maureen Bauer's (D-South Bend) first authored piece of legislation passed out of the Indiana House of Representatives by a 93-0 vote. House Bill 1219 would establish a pilot program to monitor the levels of toxic, man-made Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) in the blood of 1,000 former and current Hoosier firefighters.

“Today, we are one step closer toward increased occupational safety measures for firefighters,” Bauer said. “I am proud that my first authored bill to pass the House is in service of those who risk their own lives to make our communities safer. While our state government has already made important interventions to decrease firefighters' on-the-job exposure to PFAS, the unfortunate truth is that many firefighters have already been exposed to PFAS from decades of use of turnout gear and AFFF foam. Once enacted, this bill will allow Hoosier firefighters to finally know their PFAS exposure levels, which can lead to early detection of cancer and other serious health complications.

“I am thinking of Mike Brown, a recent retiree of the South Bend Fire Department who passed away last week from stage 4 esophageal cancer, and his surviving family and loved ones. Mike should have been able to enjoy decades of a well-earned retirement with his three children after 24 years of service with SBFD. Unfortunately, too many Hoosier firefighters have already passed away from cancer. It is my hope that this testing program will help prevent more life-threatening diagnoses of this nature in our community, and communities across the state.”

“Thank you to my Republican and Democratic colleagues, as well as the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Professional Firefighter Union of Indiana, the South Bend Fire Department and South Bend Fire Local 362, for their support of this legislation.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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