Wednesday’s event was the launch of the initiative in Greensburg.
INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb has announced today the next steps to a new program that collects and disposes of hazardous firefighting foam containing PFAS (a known contaminant).
“Indiana has chosen to be a leader in this PFAS foam program, because, frankly, firefighting is hard enough without having to worry about these hazardous chemicals,” Gov. Holcomb stated. “We hope more departments will sign up so we can do all we can to protect Indiana firefighters.”
Around 200 fire departments have signed up to participate in the program and have identified approximately 50,000 gallons worth of foam that can be safely disposed off at no cost to them.
Register fire departments from Indiana for this free program at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website DHS.IN.GOV. The program is a collaboration between IDHS and Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Indiana is one of a handful of states to have a PFAS foam disposal system. This program allows the state offer a free pickup and an environmentally friendly disposal, which can save fire departments thousands of dollars and protect Hoosiers and the Indiana ecosystem.
Gov. Gov. Holcomb, Joel Thacker, State Fire Marshal, and Brian Rockensuess, IDEM Commissioner, launched the initiative on Wednesday at a kickoff event attended by fire departments across the state. It was held at Greensburg Fire Department in Decatur County.
PFAS chemicals are long-lasting, widely used chemicals. The components of PFAS break down slowly over time. Many PFAS chemicals are found in the bloodstream of animals and people all over the globe due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment. They are also found in low levels in many food products and in the surrounding environment. Extended exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to four of the top eight types of cancer most common to firefighters: testicular, prostate, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2020, Indiana law banned the use PFAS foam for training purposes.
“This collection program is an opportunity for the State to honor those men and women who sacrifice so much for us every day,” Thacker said. “PFAS exposure represents a hidden danger to firefighters, and Indiana is determined to protect them as much as possible through this program.”
“IDEM is proud to work with our state partners to protect the hardworking men and women who risk their lives for us,” Rockensuess said. “PFAS foam has the potential to also negatively affect our groundwater and removing it from our communities will make the environment safer for all Hoosiers.”
A state vendor will start collecting in May by contacting departments who have completed the Foam Collection Initiative Survey to arrange for a pick-up. The disposal program will be monitored by the IDEM.