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Michigan begins collecting firefighting foam containing PFAS

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team announced today that it has started collecting PFAS-containing aqueous film forming foam from fire departments and commercial airports across the state as part of Michigan’s $1.4 million AFFF pick-up and disposal plan.

Under a contract with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, US Ecology of Livonia began collecting the first of 35,000 gallons of Class B AFFF for shipment to its facility in Idaho where it will be solidified and placed in a licensed hazardous waste landfill.

Crews from US Ecology collected 1,260 total gallons from the Lansing Fire Department, the Lansing Township Fire Department and Capital Regional International Airport.

“Michigan remains a leader in removing sources of PFAS contamination from our water,” MPART executive director Steve Sliver said in a Dec. 12 press release. “We believe this is the largest collection and disposal effort yet among the handful of states that are taking action to prevent future contamination from Class B AFFF. This product has been responsible for contaminating drinking water around hundreds of military bases and commercial airports across the country. Michigan calls on the EPA, Department of Defense and FAA to take more action on this growing environmental and public health threat.”

The AFFF was identified through a 2018 MPART initiative to survey and educate fire departments throughout Michigan on the appropriate use and clean-up of PFAS-containing firefighting foam. Led by State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer, the survey identified 336 fire departments with Class B AFFF in their inventories – nearly half of the 784 departments surveyed.

“Receiving this funding was critical to our efforts to remove PFAS from our communities, protect the public, and reduce the risks of exposure to Michiganders,” Sehlmeyer said.

Known to scientists as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including firefighting foam, food packaging, and many other consumer products. These compounds also are used by industries such as tanneries, metal platers and clothing manufacturers.

More information on PFAS and the state fire marshal’s initiative to survey and educate first responders on best practices around the use of firefighting is on the MPART website, Michigan.gov/PFASResponse.

 

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