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State Laws Limit the Use of Firefighting Foam Containing PFAS

Posted on in Personal Injury

Pittsburgh Toxic Tort AttorneyFirefighters and others who work around fires may be exposed to toxic chemicals due to the use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). This type of firefighting foam may be used to control fires involving substances such as oil, gasoline, or jet fuel, and it can smother flames and cut off their oxygen supply. Many types of AFFF contain chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked with multiple types of serious health issues. Because this issue is an ongoing concern, numerous states have passed laws that limit the use of AFFF and address health concerns related to PFAS.

Recent Changes to State Laws Related to AFFF and PFAS

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyls) are known as “forever chemicals” that do not break down over time. They can accumulate in the environment, leading to health issues that affect people who are exposed due to chemicals in water or soil. The use of firefighting foam may result in injuries to firefighters, people who work at airports or military bases where oil or jet fuel fires need to be controlled, or people who live near areas where these chemicals may accumulate in the environment. 

To address ongoing concerns about PFAS, several states have passed laws in recent years that address the use of AFFF. These states include:

  • Pennsylvania - Following an order by Governor Tom Wolf in 2019, the state has taken steps to begin the process of setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFAS. It has also acted to use a portion of state tax revenue to remediate water contamination in the areas around military bases where AFFF has been used.

  • Maryland - As of October 1, 2021, AFFF containing PFAS cannot be used for training purposes, with some exceptions. The state does allow for the use of AFFF in emergencies. 

  • Michigan - As of July 2020, AFFF may only be used for limited purposes, and its use must be immediately reported to the Michigan Pollution Emergency  Alert System (PEAS). Fire chiefs are also prohibited from using AFFF during training.

  • Indiana - As of June 30, 2020, state agencies are prohibited from using AFFF for training purposes, and it may only be used for testing purposes if a facility is equipped to prevent the release of PFAS into the environment.

  • Illinois - As of January 1, 2022, any fire departments or government agencies that use AFFF must notify the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) within 48 hours. The state has also prohibited the use of AFFF during training or for testing purposes unless containment, treatment, and disposal measures are used to prevent the release of PFAS into the environment and employees are provided with training to inform them of potential hazards and protective methods.

  • Georgia - As of January 1, 2020, fire departments and government agencies are prohibited from using AFFF except for fire prevention or emergency fire-fighting purposes. AFFF can only be used for training or testing purposes at facilities that have the proper containment and disposal measures.

  • California - As of January 1, 2022, manufacturers cannot sell or distribute AFFF products that contain intentionally-added PFAS chemicals. Any use of AFFF must be reported to the State Fire Marshal.

Contact Our Wexford Toxic Chemical Injury Lawyers

With so many states passing laws limiting the use of AFFF, it is clear that this substance may cause harm to people who are exposed to it. Firefighters or others who may have been exposed to PFAS due to the use of firefighting foam may be able to take legal action against the manufacturers of these products. Our Pittsburgh toxic substance exposure attorneys can help victims determine their options in these situations. Contact us at 412-680-7877 to arrange a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-state-laws.aspx

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2019&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=1410&pn=2161

https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/0,9038,7-365-86514-496805--,00.html

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