Congress opens the door for fluorine-free firefighting foams
By Tom Bruton | November 16, 2018
On October 5, federal legislation was enacted which will allow commercial airports in the U.S. to use firefighting foams without PFAS. Until now, FAA rules have required airports to use firefighting foams that meet the U.S. military’s specification, which requires the use of PFAS. Firefighting foam is a major source of PFAS contamination, so this should mean healthier drinking water for those living near airports.
This important change will give airports the freedom to choose PFAS-free alternatives that are being used safely and effectively around the world. In the words of Sen. Peters of Michigan, “Using fluorine-free foams is not a novel idea, but it is an idea whose time has come.” This bipartisan legislation passed by a large majority in both the House and Senate–and it began when we shared the idea at our March monthly webinar for Hill staff just eight months ago!
The bill gives FAA three years to make the change.
List of communities known to have been impacted by PFAS from firefighting foam use at airports:
- Fairbanks, AK
- Gustavus, AK
- San Luis Obispo, CA
- Houlton, ME
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Muskegon, MI
- Bemidji, MN
- Suffolk County, NY
- Westchester County, NY
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Rutland, VT
For a detailed discussion of the use of Class B firefighting foam by U.S. commercial airports, see this 2017 report by the Airport Cooperative Research Program.