Clean Water Action led efforts this past legislative session to address toxic per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals by pressing for a bill to restrict firefighting foam. Firefighting foam used for training is a major source contamination to our environment and our waters. Alternatives are available.
The bill had broad support from environmental advocates, firefighters, DEEP and DPH as well as the CT Airport Authority and fire training academies. It passed out of the Public Health Committee unanimously but did not get called for a floor vote. Much of this was due to the fact that legislators weren’t familiar with this issue.
That all changed just four days after the session when 40,000 gallons leaked out of a hangar at Bradley International Airport and flowed into the Farmington River!
Why is this a concern? PFAS chemicals have contaminated groundwater and drinking water across the country. A recent report estimates that 610 drinking water sources in 43 states, potentially impacting millions of Americans. These chemicals are found in firefighting foam, anti-stick cookware, food packaging, anti-stain coatings on carpets and textiles and water-resistant outerwear. They are persistent—meaning they don’t break down, last a long time and accumulate in our bodies and the environment. In the environment, they are also mobile! They leach into groundwater and spread. They are found in fish, wildlife and humans and they’re toxic! PFAS chemicals are linked to kidney and testicular cancers, liver disfunction, hormone disruption, thyroid disease, reproductive disorders, infertility, low birth weights and even resistance to vaccines!
On July 9th, Governor Lamont formed a taskforce to make recommendations on how to manage PFAS contamination. This is good news but we want to make sure comprehensive steps are taken to 1) restrict firefighting foam, 2) restrict other sources of contamination like food packaging, 3) implement strict water testing guidelines and 4) set a health protective drinking water standard.