New York Bans Use of Toxic Chemical in Firefighting Foam

January 14, 2020

New York plans to restrict the use of firefighting foam that contains certain chemicals that have the potential to contaminate groundwater.

Firefighting foam can contain polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are man-made chemicals that research suggests can decrease female fertility, increase the risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women and lower birth weights.

PFAS have been used for decades in a range of products, including foam, non-stick cookware, fast-food wrappers and stain-resistant sprays. The chemicals have been drawing more scrutiny as potentially toxic contaminants in recent years.

Governor Andrew Cuomo approved legislation last month that would ban the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS for training purposes.

The bill passed by lawmakers would also ban the use of foam with PFAS to fight fires from different kinds of liquids. But Cuomo, a Democrat, says there aren’t yet effective alternatives to firefighting foam with PFAS for all liquids.

He said he’s secured an agreement with legislators to allow the state to decide when “exceptions to the bill need to be made to allow for effective alterations that will maintain environmental safety.”

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