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David Sparks Ph.d Firefighters health
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: September 19, 2017

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Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helped pass H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017, through the House of Representatives. This legislation will help improve firefighter health by collecting data on the impacts of smoke inhalation while fighting fires. During a speech on the House floor, Walden stressed the need to protect the brave men and women who battle dangerous fires like those raging across Oregon.

“These heroic first responders experience occupational health risks every day. In my district, it’s often from forest fires like we’re having all summer long,” said Walden. “This past weekend I saw firsthand what our firefighters face as they battle a number of fires raging in Oregon, putting themselves in harm’s way to save property, infrastructure, lives, watersheds, habitats, and forests.”

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is important public health legislation that will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters. This registry will allow researchers to have a greater understanding of the impacts smoke inhalation and other occupational hazards have on a firefighter’s health, and lead to better treatment options.

"Nationwide, this is a problem facing our firefighters – they came to us and said we need this registry. Close to 8 million acres have burned in wildfires so far this year – over 525,000 acres in Oregon alone –  burning both public and private lands. Thousands of residents have been evacuated, but Oregon’s firefighters, of course, stayed behind. That is just what they do.”

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act passed unanimously through the House and now awaits action in the Senate. This comes as Walden is continuing his efforts to reform federal forest management policy to help prevent catastrophic fires in Oregon and throughout the West.

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