No, that’s not a typo. Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) are a type of synthetic fire fighting foam that contains fluoro-surfactants. There is nothing new about the use of AFFF, which have been widely used for extinguishing flammable liquid fires since the early 1970s. However, in recent years, regulators and environmental consultants in the United States and Canada are increasingly recognizing the need to test for the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in AFFF and other fluorinated (Class B) foam residues in the environment.
Why? Because PFAS have been recognized as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and studies have found these contaminants in the blood of the general human population and fish and wildlife worldwide. Certain PFAS accumulate in the body and may be associated with a wide range of adverse human health effects including cancer.
Public perception, litigation suits, and the publication of health-based screening and action limits in drinking water, groundwater and soil (federally in Canada, and primarily at the State level in the United States) are expected to change how we approach Phase 1 and 2 Environmental Site Assessments for certain properties.
Therefore, if you own, are considering a purchase of, or currently manage a property with a history of fire training activities, storage or use of AFFF, then sampling for these substances may be warranted now. At some point, sampling for these substances may become mandatory thereby affecting the value of your investment property or the feasibility of your next development.
Premier’s colleagues at EarthCon Consultants in the United States are well-versed in the latest science, treatment and technology, and regulatory news. If you would like to know more, feel free to contact Kyla Hoyles, who will connect you with one of our PFAS specialists. We would love to hear from you, even if you are AFAF (Asking For A Friend).
Kyla Hoyles, P. Geo.
Premier Environmental Services Inc.