Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF)
AFFF, or Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, is an effective firefighting agent used by firefighters from both military and civilian units to suppress fires. It has been found that this popular firefighting foam contains harmful chemicals such as PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) that are believed to cause several types of cancer as a result of regular eposure. These chemicals remain both in the human body and the environment after use, often working their way into the local water supply of nearby communities through groundwater contamination.
Aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, has been manufactured with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) since the 1950s. Two particular PFAS compounds found within the foam are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). These synthetic chemicals work to suppress flammable-liquid fires by creating a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen it needs to burn.
Both PFOA and PFOS have been identified by the EPA as “emerging contaminants” , meaning they are suspected of causing negative health effects in humans. Additionally, these chemicals are “persistent,” so they don’t break down after entering the human body or the environment. When firefighting foam is used, PFOA and PFOS spread throughout nearby soil, often contaminating local drinking water sources. Once ingested, the potentially toxic AFFF PFAS will remain in your system and continue to “bioaccumulate” upon further exposure.
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