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Forever Litigation: the PFAS Project

Toxic Firefighting Foam With PFAS Scrutinized by Multiple States

June 18, 2020, 4:48 PM

State legislators and regulators are increasingly targeting firefighting foams containing toxic PFAS chemicals, with five states recently enacting, considering, or bringing into effect restrictions on such products.

The developments were included in the latest update of Bloomberg Law’s PFAS State Activity Tracker, which includes more than 100 PFAS-related actions at the state level.

Delaware, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin are the latest states to propose, enact, or revise regulations on firefighting foam. At least nine other states already have, or are considering, restrictions on the use or distribution of such foams.

PFAS, or poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, have been used by hundreds of companies to make thousands of products, including semiconductors, sticky notes, and shoes. The original PFAS manufacturers—the 3M Co. and DuPont—Chemours, a DuPont spinoff, and some companies using the chemicals are the subject of several PFAS-related lawsuits.

Foam Takeback Program

Some PFAS have been linked to a host of health problems and prompted states to set new regulations to limit them in drinking water and other areas.

The chemicals have been commonly used in some firefighting foams as an effective way to cut off oxygen in hazardous liquid fires involving gasoline, oil, or jet fuel. These foams targeting flammable liquids are known as ‘Class B’ firefighting foam.

Researchers have identified PFAS contamination in areas where those foams are often used, such as military bases.

Michigan also announced Wednesday that it collected more than 30,000 gallons of PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) from fire departments and commercial airports across the state.

A survey of 762 fire departments in the state found nearly half had Class B AFFF in their inventories, according to a news release from the state’s PFAS Action Response Team.

Other developments added to the tracker include a binding Massachusetts regulation that sets new standards for PFAS testing, and legislation in Virginia requiring additional PFAS research and establishing maximum contaminant levels for PFAS in public drinking water.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Wallender in Washington at awallender@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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