COLORADO — In 2019, state lawmakers passed legislation to change requirements when it comes to using toxic chemicals in firefighting foam.
These chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are more commonly known as PFAS or PFCs. This legislative session state legislators are hoping to change the power when it comes to regulation.
The foam isn't used for wildfires, but for flammable liquid or chemical fires. In southern Colorado, there have been cases of the Air Force getting the chemicals into water from training exercises.
The 2019 bill made it so the foam cannot be used during training, only emergencies. This session, lawmakers want to see the state's Department of Public Health and Environment create a certificate program for fire departments that have firefighting foam with PFAS.
The bill would also allow airports, provided they meet certain requirements to conduct training.
Lawmakers say federal regulations aren't working for Colorado, and they believe state agencies such as DPHE and the Water Quality Control Commission could create standards to ensure safe drinking water.
"They're not moving fast enough and this is a very harmful chemical so we're trying to do our part at the state to at least put some things in place that we can do at the state level," said Representative Tony Exum Sr. (Colorado Springs- D) a sponsor of the bill.
State regulation is something few states have done when it comes to these chemicals.
"It's a difficult situation that the states are in because you're trying to find this toxicological number where this threshold is," said David Kempisty, a Business Development Manager with Evoqua water technologies.
Kempisty has studied the effects of PFAS for years, he now works for a company that creates technology to get rid of the chemicals from water supply. States such as California and Michigan have adopted or are adopting new standards. The standards are stricter to be able to see non-detectable levels of the chemicals.