Pilot program underway in Arizona aimed at eliminating firefighting foam linked to cancer

Dec 14, 2022, 4:05 AM

(AP Photo/Nick Ut)...

(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has launched a pilot program that will eliminate foam linked to cancer in firefighters.

The program will assist select fire departments statewide by removing, disposing and replacing foam that contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Foam with PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” for their long shelf life, is used primarily to extinguish petroleum-based fires.

Exposure has led to adverse health effects and discharge can be especially harmful to the environment, according to ADEQ.

“Protecting Arizonans and Arizona’s precious water resources from PFAS impacts is critical,” ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera said in a press release.

“In addition to posing risks to firefighters’ health, uncontrolled release of firefighting foam containing PFAS has the potential to create adverse impacts to our communities if it reaches drinking water, groundwater or surface water.”

State law prohibits discharge or use of foam with intentionally added PFAS for training or testing purposes unless required by law or done in a facility with proper disposal measures.

The one-year program will remove and replace the foam with PFAS at no cost, a luxury for many departments that don’t have the funding or means to do so.

Twenty-four departments in 14 of the 15 counties are eligible for the program. About 3,000 gallons of the foam could be replaced by the end of June 2023.

“ADEQ’s take-back-and replace pilot program is an important action to protect public health and the environment in Arizona and part of our proactive PFAS mitigation strategy,” Cabrera said.

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Pilot program underway in Arizona aimed at eliminating firefighting foam linked to cancer