Posted on July 21, 2021
HARTFORD — State Representative Ben McGorty (R-122nd) expressed support today for the passage of legislation banning the use of corrosive ‘forever chemicals’ in firefighting foam in Connecticut.
After a major PFAS contamination event in the Farmington River in 2019, McGorty and other lawmakers pushed for legislation restricting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foam and food packaging. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS don’t break down naturally and can accumulate over time, with long-term exposure linked to adverse human health effects.
The new law signed Tuesday would ban the use of PFAS-containing fire-retardant foam — also known as “AFFF” — in Connecticut effective October 1st, 2021.
“For decades, firefighters have been exposed to harmful ‘forever chemicals’ in the firefighting foam they deploy and train with. Unbeknownst to them or their supervisors, but known for years by the manufacturers, these chemicals were toxic and building up in their blood and elevating their risk for cancer,” said McGorty, who serves on the Public Safety committee and co-sponsored the bill. “It is unacceptable that the manufacturers were aware of the risks and consequences for so long, but I’m glad that our state is finally taking up the issue and making sure no more firefighters and first responders are exposed.”
McGorty, a career fireman and co-chair of the Fire and EMS legislative caucus, said he’s seen firsthand the health and environmental impact of ‘forever chemicals’ at O’Sullivan’s Island in Derby. In 2018, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) recommended PFAS testing of fish samples from O’Sullivan’s Island due to the potential use of AFFF foam during training exercises at Valley Fire Training School.
“It has a real impact on our local environment and our quality of life in the Valley,” said McGorty, who serves as Deputy Fire Marshal in Stratford and is a 27-year veteran with the Huntington Fire Department. “Anything we can do to keep harmful and pervasive chemicals out of our water and soil, I’m all for it.”
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has already been engaged in a statewide takeback of AFFF foam from municipal fire departments free of charge. It has also already identified PFAS-free substitutes that can be used to extinguish fires with minimal impact to health or the environment.