Some firefighting foams contain PFAS, scientifically referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS may pose a risk to human health. Firefighting foam with PFAS can get into water and contaminate water in wells and drinking water supplies, as well as expose firefighters and others to the toxic foam.
There are two major types of firefighting foam, Class A and Class B. Class A foams are used to extinguish fires caused by wood, paper, and plants. Class A foams generally do not contain PFAS. Class B foams are used to put out fires caused by flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and jet fuel. Class B foams can be divided into two categories, fluorinated foams and fluorine-free foams. Fluorinated foams contain PFAS, and fluorine-free foams do not. Many Class B foams are aqueous film-forming foams, or AFFF. All AFFF foams contain PFAS chemicals.
What are the next steps if we think firefighting foam with these chemicals was released into the environment?
If you believe a fire department may have used firefighting foam with these chemicals during training or fire suppression, you may want to determine the extent of contamination. You can work with your water provider and local public health agency to develop a sampling plan to test and investigate whether PFAS entered drinking water supplies.
Who to contact if PFAS are found in water sources at or near the site? If PFAS are found in water samples taken at or near your site, please contact your local public health agency for further discussion. Additional resources and information can be found in the resources section below.
How is firefighting foam with these chemicals regulated?
House Bill 19-1279, Firefighting foams and Personal Protective Equipment Control Act, includes requirements designed to reduce environmental contamination and to reduce the risk of public health impacts for firefighters and Coloradans. The Act bans the use and sale of firefighting foam with these chemicals and requires certain activities from the manufacturers.
Should a firefighting agency seek alternatives to using AFFF? Yes. Please consider using fluorine-free Class B foams as appropriate.