Safer Firefighting Foam Act (HB 2265/SB 6360)

PFAS are extremely persistent toxic chemicals added to firefighting foams used for oil-based fires. Their widespread use has resulted in drinking water contamination in Washington State and across the nation. PFAS are linked to serious health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, hormone disruption, liver toxicity, and harm to the immune system.

HB 2265 and SB 6360 eliminate exemptions in existing law that allow PFAS-containing firefighting foams to be used at oil facilities, chemical plants and airports. This bill is important to protect public health, firefighter health, drinking water supplies, and other bodies of water including Puget Sound.

Washington is leading the nation, now it must finish the job

In 2018, Washington State banned the sale of PFAS-containing firefighting foam for many uses but exempted oil facilities, chemical plants and airports.

The military and airports are the largest users of PFAS firefighting foam, followed by oil facilities and chemical plants. It is estimated that refineries and other petroleum facilities alone use about 211,000 gallons of PFAS-containing foam each year in the state.

Recently Congress has:

Now that other major users of PFAS-containing foam are on a timeline to phase out its use, it is time for Washington State to finish the job and put ALL users of PFAS foam on a phaseout timeline.

PFAS foam use poses enormous health and cleanup costs

  • Cancer is the leading cause of in-line duty death for firefighters. Avoiding unnecessary exposures to chemicals that can lead to cancer is a critical prevention strategy.
  • The Department of Defense estimates that cleanup of military bases across the country due to PFAS-containing foam use will cost at least $2 billion.
  • In Washington State, PFAS contamination in Issaquah, Airway Heights, Fort Lewis, and Coupeville is costing millions of dollars for cleanup and safer drinking water. The liability and costs of using PFAS foams will continue to grow as PFAS are declared as hazardous substances and drinking water standards are put into effect.

Safer alternatives are effective and available

Fluorine-free foams are in widespread use around the U.S. and the world, including at airports and refineries.

  • In a July 2019 article in International Airport Review, Dr. Ian Ross listed 20 major international airports that have switched to fluorine free, including London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Copenhagen, Stuttgart, and Melbourne.
  • Major oil companies have had a program to actively test PFAS-free firefighting foams, through their own consortium known as LASTFIRE. LASTFIRE has reported good performance of fluorine-free foam on large hydrocarbon fires.
  • DuPont recently announced it will eliminate the purchase and use of ALL firefighting foams made with PFAS at its chemical plant sites by the end of 2021.
  • The Danish Royal Airforce moved to fluorine-free foams several years ago, and reports “fluorine-free foam works flawlessly.”
  • A report by the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse in 2019 identified nearly 100 PFAS-free firefighting foams made by 24 manufacturers. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carina Wells, cwells@toxicfreefuture.org; (206) 632-1545 x 112.