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Press Statement

Congress Directs FAA to Stop Requiring Toxic Firefighting Foams at Airports

States Should Move Quickly to Adopt Bans on Toxic Firefighting Foams

Today Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow airports to use firefighting foam free of highly fluorinated chemicals or PFAS. PFAS-containing firefighting foam is responsible for the contamination of drinking water of millions of Americans across the country. If signed into law, the bill will allow civilian airports to switch to PFAS-free firefighting foams.

The new provision is included in the FAA Reauthorization Act passed today. It follows the passage of a Washington State law earlier this year to prohibit the sale of PFAS-containing foam. Several other states are expected to introduce similar protective policies in 2019.

“States have been dealing with PFAS contamination for years. Today’s action can set the stage for strong state actions to keep PFAS firefighting foams out of water and the environment,” said Safer States Strategic Adviser Gretchen Salter. We expect several states to keep up the pressure to reduce exposure to these chemicals in the next few years.”

PFAS are a class of chemicals that are linked to cancer, liver toxicity, and other health effects. The chemicals are extremely persistent and can stay in the human body for as long as 8 years.

“Washington state led the way with the first ban on the sale of PFAS-containing firefighting foams. But it shouldn’t be the last,” said Toxic-Free Future Executive Director Laurie Valeriano. “Other states should follow Washington’s lead and ban these firefighting foams to protect drinking water and the health of firefighters. This action by Congress makes it possible for airports to phase out the use of these PFAS foams, which makes it even more important for states to take action,” she added.

“Communities across the country are being exposed to these highly toxic chemicals in their drinking water. Congress has taken an important step toward ending the use of PFAS foams at commercial airports,” said Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Director Liz Hitchcock. “We look forward to working with states, Congress and the Administration to take many more steps forward to tackle this public health crisis.”

PFAS have come under increased scrutiny in the last few years, and in 2018 Safer States partners are leading the way, putting in place PFAS health protections. A few examples include:

  • Washington state banned PFAS in firefighting foams and food packaging;
  • San Francisco banned PFAS in food packaging;
  • New York placed restrictions on state agencies buying food packaging containing PFAS; and,
  • Numerous states are putting in place drinking water protections.

For more information on PFAS action in states go to:

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