State receiving funding to get rid of dangerous PFAs-laced firefighting foam

Environment

Conn. (WTNH) — “PFAS” are man-made chemicals linked to serious health issues like cancer, and they are turning up in the environment. Connecticut has taken measures to ban these ‘forever chemicals.’ Now, new money from the bi-partisan Infrastructure package will help towns get rid of dangerous PFAS-laced “foam” used to put out fires.

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Beginning in October, Connecticut banned PFAS specific to the fire fighting foam.

The Long Island Sound Keeper and a firefighter, Bill Lucey knows all too well the dangers. He described, “Flames all around us leaching that stuff into our bodies. Flames would drop that fire retardant all around us, we’d be slipping all over the rocks we had no idea what we were exposed to.”

But PFAS are found in many things like make-up, to-go food containers, some groundwater, and that firefighting foam.

Anne Hulick from the Clean Water Action Alliance says these are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because of their unique chemistry; they do not break down.

As of July, 6,000 gallons of that foam had been collected from fire departments by the state. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Energy and the Environment (DEEP) are in charge of taking inventory and replacing the foam.

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) explained, “This buyback will enable PFAS foam to be history in the rearview mirror of firetrucks.”

Part of the recent bipartisan federal Infrastructure Bill includes $10-billion nationwide to help pay for that removal and replacement of dangerous foam with a safer green foam.

Windsor Volunteer Fire Department has two pallets of foam in five-gallon containers it needs to get rid of. In addition to buying back those five-gallon tanks of PFAS, some trucks have a tank on board with the dangerous foam. The state will have to hire a contractor to actually take that out of the truck and cleanse it.

Over the summer, Governor Ned Lamont signed a law banning the chemical in firefighting foam. Eco-Warriors at a local school reminded him, without clean water there is no life.

State Representative Jane Garabay of Windsor helped pass the legislation banning the firefighting foam. “It’s indestructible; it’s there so we have to make it so that we’re not making it anymore.”

While scientists investigate PFAS they’re looking down the road at how to make turn-out gear for firefighters without PFAS in it.

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