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Legislature votes to ban cancer-causing foam used to fight fires

OLYMPIA – Cancer-causing chemicals like the ones threatening West Plains water supplies would be banned for local firefighters starting in 2020, under a bill that received final approval from the Legislature Monday.

Fire-fighting foam that contains perfluoroalkyl and polyfluorakyl, known as PFAS, are used to on flammable liquid fires, including aviation fuels. The chemicals are also applied to firefighters protective gear.

The use of foam with PFAS for training at Fairchild Air Force Base has been linked to water contamination in Airway Heights. The chemicals are extremely mobile and get quickly into underground water supplies, legislative committees were told.

The state can’t tell the Defense Department not to use the foam on its bases or the FAA not to require its use at airports. The ban on foam effects local fire departments and fire districts, starting in July 2020, if the bill is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.


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