Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017: Policy Assignment Paper


Select a pending or recently passed (within the last year) legislative bill of interest to you (proposed or new local policy, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress). The policy must have clear health implications. This is an opportunity for you to choose an issue you want to become better informed about.

Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017 is a federal bill introduced and sponsored by Congressman Chris Tomlin and co-sponsored by Trey Hollingsworth, Indiana’s ninth congressional district representative. The congressional representatives introduced the bill on 7th February 2017, and the house representatives passed it on 12th September the same year. However, the bill is pending approval by the Senate.

Firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The firefighters are constantly exposed to serious implications, which include the immediate physical risks of getting burnt or even inhaling poisonous gases during an operation. However, for a long time, very few people have paid close attention to the increasing long-term health risks that the job poses to firefighters by exposing them to hazardous substances. The lack of sufficient information regarding the repercussions of firefighting is probably the main reason that prompted Trey Hollingsworth to propose this legislation to track cancer incidences among firefighters routinely.

The legislation demands that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) establish and revises a registry voluntarily for firefighters. The registry should contain occupational information regarding firefighters. The CDC can then connect the information with the existing data found in cancer registries for states and use it to improve the monitoring of cancer cases among firefighters. They can also use the information to publish epidemiological facts concerning cancer incidences among firefighters. Besides, the bill requires the CDC to include specific information in the registry, such as the number and types of fire incidences each firefighter has attended.

During their operations, firefighters expose themselves to carcinogenic and toxic chemicals contained in the gasses emanating from the burning materials. Some of these chemicals include asbestos, chloroform, formaldehyde, benzene, and soot. In 2010, CDC published one of the largest studies on firefighters in the United States. The study revealed that, due to the nature of their job, firefighters have a nine percent higher risk of developing cancers and register a fourteen percent higher death rate related to cancer than the average American.

The study also revealed other fundamental information regarding mortality patterns that could have prompted the bill’s conception. For instance, it found that cancers affecting the urinary, respiratory, and digestive systems were responsible for the higher rates of death observed in firefighters compared to the general population. Additionally, the population of firefighters under study had a rate of mesothelioma twice that of ordinary Americans.

Passing the bill would authorize the appropriation of approximately $12.5 million beginning the fiscal year 2018 to 2022. The CDC would use the amount to carry out all the activities stipulated in the bill. However, by historically evaluating the spending of similar projects in the past, the CBO has projected that the bill’s implementation would probably cost about $10 million during the entire period between 2018 and 2022. Therefore, the CDC would use the remainder of the projected spending in the years following 2022.

It is important to note that implementing the Firefighter Registry Act would not directly affect spending and revenues. For this reason, pay-as-you-go rules do not apply. The bill has neither intergovernmental nor private-sector mandates as stipulated under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Consequently, it will not impose any costs on the United States state, local, or even tribal governments. The bill is, therefore, very cost-effective and would not only improve the quality of life of firefighters during and after their careers but also relieve the local governments from the stressful financial burden.

The bill has a direct impact on health. It will go a long way toward improving public and government awareness of the health risks firefighters face daily on their jobs and the likely future effects they may have after their careers. The bill will help firefighters secure additional health benefits to help them cover out-of-pocket costs incurred due to cancer treatments extended to volunteering firefighters. The bill would help expand the currently available coverage for lung cancer to include the presumption that other cancers, such as those of the urinary and digestive system developed by voluntary firefighters, are also job-related.

I chose this rarely spoken-about topic for many reasons. Firefighters are no longer fighting fires arising out of wood and paper only. With the recent discovery of new chemicals, fires can arise from almost anything. Whenever plastic burns, for instance, it may release many toxic chemicals that may be carcinogenic. Due to the frequency with which firefighters are in contact with these chemicals, they are at a very high risk of suffering from the effects of these substances. Sadly, there is very little public awareness of the long-term health risks that such exposure poses to firefighters. The implementation of the bill is, therefore, going to ensure that an up-to-date history, background, and any firefighting contact is registered to enable easy monitoring of long-term health hazards.

Link to the proposal


« »

Customer's Feedback Review

Published On: 01-01-1970

Writer Response

Research paper

  • Papers
  • Views
  • Followers
Get Access
Order Similar Paper

Related Papers