HARRISBURG – A bill establishing statewide uniform requirements restricting the use of “Class B” firefighting foams containing added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for training purposes and testing was introduced today, according to prime sponsor Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Senate Bill 919, known as the Firefighting Foam Management Act, would restrict the use of foam containing PFAS chemicals beginning July 1, 2021 and direct the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), in consultation with the State Fire Commissioner, to assist firefighting entities with evaluating and determining how to transition to the use of class B firefighting foam that does not contain a PFAS chemical. The legislation would not impact the continued use of firefighting foams during emergency situations.
“Firefighters can face an extremely higher level of PFAS exposure compared to other emergency responders,” Sen. Yaw said. “PFAS contamination is a national public health challenge, and this bill is a commonsense response, which has already been adopted by many states. This bill will undoubtedly protect firefighters moving forward, while also safeguarding our ground and surface water from contamination.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
If approved, Pennsylvania would follow Colorado, Kentucky, Virginia and Washington that have enacted laws banning the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams.The measure has been referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for consideration.
For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff