Wisconsin restricts firefighting foam containing PFAS

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WLNS) – A bill was signed earlier this month to restrict PFAS pollution in Wisconsin.

The new restrictions on the use of firefighting foams with PFAS is an effort to reduce groundwater pollution, according to a National Public Radio affiliate in Milwaukee.

The bill prohibits the use of foam containing intentionally added PFAS with few exceptions.

Under the bill firefighting foam containing PFAS could only be used for testing purposes when a facility has adequate cleanup materials – or in the event of emergency. For instance, if a fire cannot be controlled by other means.

The topic generated heated discussion in the Senate, but the measure passed in both the state Assembly and Senate.

Senators voiced objections, including Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay. Hansen says the bill doesn’t go far enough and also should have placed restrictions on other substances that contain PFAS, such as food packaging and nonstick cookware.

“There are people back home in my district who I have no doubt are drinking poisoned water and are going to die young and they’re going to have all kinds of bad medical health issues,” Hansen says.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, promised more legislation is on its way.

“This bill in front of us was never meant to be the only bill. We’ve got another bill coming relating to clean sweep which takes a chunk and there are additional negotiations with the senator and Rep. [John] Nygren and my staff to come up with something that works, that’s implementable,” Cowles says.

Governor Evers is in favor of restricting PFAS, created a task force to look for solutions and endorsed legislation calling for tougher limits on the chemicals.

Firefighting foam can contain chemicals known as PFAS, which is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Firefighters will have to train with foam or other substances that don’t contain the chemicals.

Assembly Bill 323 fines violators up to $5,000 per incident.

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