Waxhaw, North Carolina — For America’s firefighters, the irony is jarring. Chemical foam that they have sprayed on fires for many years to shield others changed into a hidden risk to them.
The foam listen is available in five-gallon buckets, laced with polyfluoroalkyl substances — additionally referred to as PFAS — which might be man-made chemical substances which are water-repellent, without a doubt indestructible and perilous if inhaled or absorbed into the body.
The Environmental Protection Agency limits the secure threshold for publicity to 2 of the maximum not unusualplace PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) to almost zero, or much less than one component in line with trillion. But firefighting foam, called AFFF, includes concentrations of 10 million components in line with trillion — greater than 1000 instances better than EPA guidance — in keeping with Amy Dindal, PFAS application supervisor for Battelle, a systematic nonprofit that has evolved promising era to cast off the problem.
In North Carolina, the nonprofit is treating the Waxhaw Volunteer Fire Department’s foam stockpile, a number of which hearthplace leader Gregory Sharpe estimates can be twenty years old.
In its first business application, Battelle’s era makes use of a manner referred to as supercritical water oxidation, which entails heat, stress and an oxidant to do away with the risk withinside the PFAS carbon-fluorine bond.
“Ten seconds via our reactor, it’ll damage the CF bond,” Dindal said.
Waxhaw’s crews also are testing “clean” firefighting foam, product of organics. GreenFire, the manufacturer, says it is non-poisonous and PFAS-free. The business enterprise has been gathering AFFF foam from hearthplace departments throughout North Carolina in an attempt smash the PFAS of their stockpile with the brand new era.
“I do not need to get most cancers and I do not need my oldsters to get most cancers,” Sharpe said.