Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ron Kind announced that he joined over 50 of his colleagues in sending a bicameral, bipartisan letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging the agency to take immediate action to enable U.S. civilian airports to use PFAS-free firefighting foam.
“Contamination from PFAS is a serious issue for many communities across Wisconsin, including right here in the Third District,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “We need to do all we can to address this growing public health threat, and to that end it’s critical that the FAA works to allow our airports to use PFAS-free foams.”
“We welcome the most critical strategic move the FAA can take, by fully committing to cease all use of fluorinated foam at civilian airports according to the Congressionally mandated NDAA of 2018. AFFF also known as Airport Fluorinated Firefighting Foam is an historic toxin which has contaminated hundreds of municipalities like the Town of Campbell, WI (population 4,319). F3 (known as non-fluorine foams) are widely available and have been scientifically proven to be equally effective as evidenced at International airports since 2012. F3 foams are biodegradable and are not associated with the toxic effects of PFAS. As long as the FAA mandates municipal airports must use AFFF with known toxic “forever” substances our drinking water and neighboring communities will continue to be contaminated with no end in sight,” said Lee Donahue, Town of Campbell Health, Education and Welfare Co-Supervisor.
The 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill made it so that as of October 4, 2021, FAA could no longer require that civilian airports use firefighting foams containing toxic PFAS chemicals. However, because FAA has not authorized the use of any alternative PFAS-free foams, provided any information about applying the UL 162 performance requirements to fluorine-free foams at airports, or updated the current military specification performance standard, airports are not currently able to make the switch. The letter clarifies that Congress’ original intent of Section 332 was to trigger actions by the FAA so airports would have the option to begin using PFAS-free firefighting foam by October 4, 2021.
Specifically, the letter requests that FAA:
- Provide specific actions FAA plans to take to enable airports to complete the switch to PFAS-free foam and propose a timeline for each action; and
- Immediately allow all U.S. civilian airports to use fluorine-free foam, and allow them the flexibility to meet standards used by international airports such as ICAO Level B.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports that six of Wisconsin’s eight commercial airports have tested for PFAS and found contamination at elevated levels. PFAS chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weaken immune systems.
Rep. Kind is a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force. Recently, Rep. Kind helped introduce and pass the bipartisan PFAS Action Act, a comprehensive package that aims to protect Wisconsinites from PFAS, and fought to ensure American Rescue Plan funds could be used to address PFAS contamination. Additionally this year he helped introduce the bipartisan Test Your Well Water Act, which would provide Wisconsinites with resources to test their wells for PFAS.