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PFAS-containing firefighting foam

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. PFAS have been used specifically in some synthetic Class B firefighting foams, including aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). For additional details, read the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC) Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) fact sheet.

Fluorine-free firefighting foams

A few organizations offer lists of what are believed to be fluorine-free firefighting foams, including:

The DNR does not endorse or confirm the validity of claims that foams listed by other organizations are fluorine free. Firefighting agencies may wish to contact these organizations directly to evaluate their claims. It may also be productive to work with foam manufacturers and their vendors to inquire about specific products and request fluorine-free certifications or other evidence of PFAS-free ingredients.

The U.S. Department of Defense is engaged in ongoing research on fluorine-free foams.

State survey of Wisconsin fire departments

Wisconsin joined Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Colorado and other states in working with local fire departments to address the environmental and human health risks associated with PFAS. As part of a larger statewide initiative, the DNR, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Survey Center and other state agencies, conducted a survey of all Wisconsin fire departments from January through March 2020 to learn about the existence and use of fluorinated firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Information obtained through this survey will help with the development of voluntary best-management practices (BMPs) for the use and storage of PFAS-containing foam. The data will also be used to develop a cost estimate for a potential statewide PFAS-containing foam collection and disposal effort.

The DNR would like to thank the fire departments that completed the survey. Fire department input is crucial to help obtain a full understanding of how much PFAS-containing foam is currently on hand, how it is used and what needs to be done to ensure that Wisconsin firefighters and the communities they serve are protected.

If you have questions about the content of the survey, please contact DNR at DNRFireFightingFoamStudy@Wisconsin.gov or 844-910-3659 (toll-free).

Last revised: Thursday April 09 2020