August 22, 2018

Warren Files Amendments Supporting Massachusetts Firefighters, Police Officers, and First Responders

Amendments Would Fund Study of Health Effects of PFAS Exposure in Firefighters & Include Police Officers, Other First Responders in Cancer Registry

Amendment on Firefighter PFAS Study (PDF) | Amendment on Firefighter Cancer Registry (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) filed two amendments to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would improve data collection and research on various health and occupational safety concerns facing firefighters, police officers and other first responders in the Commonwealth. The first amendment filed would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a study on the health implications for firefighters, police officers, and first responders of exposure to per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), while the second would include police officers and first responders in the cancer registry established by the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.

"As they work to keep our families and neighborhoods safe, firefighters and first responders in Massachusetts and across the country expose themselves to harsh chemicals and put their health at risk," said Senator Warren. "The amendments I filed today would allow us to collect better data on this problem so we can better protect all of our first responders who put their lives on the line for us every day. We owe it to them to do everything we can to protect their health and safety."

Amendment on Firefighter and First Responders PFAS Study

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals that have been used since the 1970s in firefighting foam.  Both civilian and military firefighters have used these foams, and there is particular concern that PFAS chemicals have led to water contamination around Air Force bases across the country, including in Massachusetts.

Senator Warren's amendment would help address these concerns by requiring the CDC to conduct a study on the health effects of PFAS exposure in firefighters, first responders, and police officers. 

Amendment on Firefighter Cancer Registry

Firefighters are exposed to a variety of carcinogens on the job and as a result, develop cancer at a higher rate than the general population.  While the CDC maintains several disease registries, including a general cancer registry, none of these registries systematically collect information related to job history, making it difficult for researchers to conduct large-scale analysis of cancer incidence associated with occupational exposure.

Senator Warren was a co-sponsor of Senator Robert Menendez's, Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which was signed into law last month and established a national cancer registry at the CDC to track rates of cancer among firefighters. 

The amendment Senator Warren filed today would build upon this law by adding police officers and other first responders to the national cancer registry.