Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

May 14, 2021

Sen. Kushner Joins Senate in Restricting the Use of Potentially Pollutive Chemicals in Firefighting Foam, Packaging, Limiting Exposure to the Potentially Harmful Chemical

Today, State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) joined her colleagues in the Senate in approving legislation restricting the use of perfluoroalkyl, or substances containing the chemical perfluoroalkyl, in firefighting foam and in packaging or packaging components. Senator Kushner also co-sponsored the bill.

This legislation was spurred as a result of several prominent events in recent years where the use of such foams led to the chemicals being released into grounds and bodies of water including the Connecticut River, and increasing research finding contact with such chemicals may be detrimental to human health. Such action will protect the residents of Connecticut and ensure clean water remains available to residents.

“We need to preserve our natural waterways and prevent pollution of any kind where and when we can,” said Sen. Kushner. “With a number of past incidents involving PFAS used in firefighting foam leading to extensive pollution issues, including a 2019 incident where PFAS reached the Connecticut River, we owe it to our state to take action and phase out its use, better protecting our residents’ health. I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of this beneficial legislation.”

Senate Bill 837, “An Act Concerning The Use Of Perfluoroalkyl or Perfluoroalkyl Substances In Class B Firefighting Foam,” would prohibit a person, local government or state agency from using a class B firefighting foam with added perfluoroalkyl – a substance which has potential adverse effects in humans if they are exposed to it – in any amount for training purposes. The foam will not be allowed to be used for any firefighting purposes except for petroleum-based fires, and only if the commissioner of DEEP does not identify an alternative by July 1. By October 1, the commissioner of DEEP must develop or identify a take-back program for municipal PFAS sources applying best management for their disposal.

Perfluoroalkyl, more commonly known as PFAS, would also be phased out of food packaging as soon as feasible, with a required date of October 1, 2023. DEEP would also create a certificate of compliance stating a package or packaging component is in compliance with such standards.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued a lifetime health advisory for certain levels of perfluoroalkyl in drinking water, among others, due to high risks of negative health outcomes for humans coming in contact with the chemical. In past firefighting incidents in Connecticut, homeowners of homes where PFAS chemicals were used were told not to use or drink their well-water; according to the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, in one such incident, an impacted family chose to dig an entirely new well after PFAS was used to extinguish a house fire. Removing its presence from materials that could meet humans including firefighting foam and food containers will reduce the risk of potential adverse health effects.

The legislation previously passed the Environment Committee by a unanimous vote. It will move to the House.