“Queensland’s looming ban on firefighting foams containing toxic PFAS chemicals could falter because a lack of suitable, non-toxic alternatives, a leading chemistry academic warns.

The state government first announced in July 2016 it would phase out the use of the toxic foams containing PFOS and PFOA but gave companies until July 2019 to stop using them and secure any existing stocks they had from leaking into the environment.

But two years into the three-year phase-out, Professor Steven Bottle of Queensland University of Technology questioned whether industry would be able to successfully transition away from the toxic foams.

‘I am not sure that there is as good a product as PFAS, for aviation fuel fires especially,’ Professor Bottle said.

‘PFAS are very effective in coating fires and spilt fuel.

‘They help to form a blanket that cuts off the fire from the oxygen it needs, and they hold a layer of water in place to take away heat and decrease flammable vapours.

‘It is a challenge to come up with an agent as effective as PFAS in this context.

‘The government could simply ban PFAS but they can’t go back to just spraying water on a fire.

‘They have to use some form of foaming agent in situations where fires need to be suppressed quickly to save lives.’

He added that any alternative used must be ‘as benign as possible’, and that environmental exposure would need to be limited.”

Read the full article by Alison Brown