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October 5, 2021

US FAA advises airports to restrict use of firefighting foam with PFAS

FAA seeks to replace the PFAS firefighting foam with a fluorine-free alternative.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has advised the airports to minimise the use of firefighting foam with the chemical PFAS.

The move aims to mitigate the environmental and public health risks associated with the use of PFAS, reported Reuters.

PFAS chemicals do not break down easily, earning the name of ‘forever chemicals’. Additionally, PFAS exposure can cause several illnesses including kidney cancer.

Several US states have already banned their use in food packaging.

FAA and the US Department of Defense (DoD) have been conducting research to find alternatives that can douse fuel fire.

More than 400 research tests were conducted to assess 15 fluorine-free firefighting foam products. A replacement firefighting agent is expected to be adopted eventually.

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In a statement, FAA said: “The FAA continues to evaluate firefighting foam that protects the flying public, human health and the environment.”

Airports Council International-North America was quoted by Reuters as saying: “At present, FAA requirements compel us to use firefighting foam that contains PFAS, known as aqueous film-forming foam. We continue to collaborate with the FAA to ensure that airports are able to operate their facilities in safe, secure and environmentally responsible ways.”

In August, FAA administrator Steve Dickson mentioned in a letter that the agency’s alternative firefighting agent research project experienced disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dickson was quoted by Reuters as saying in the letter: “There are significant and growing concerns about the human health impacts and associated liability associated with PFAS contamination on and near airports.”

Last month, the FAA allocated over $431.8m in grants to increase safety and reduce environmental impact at airports.

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