Read the full op-ed from Liz Hitchcock (Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families)

“Here’s how a federal agency ‘meets’ a deadline without actually doing what Congress wanted it to do by that deadline.  

For many years, civilian airports have been forced by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules to stock and use PFAS-based firefighting foam. Responding to rapidly growing public concern about toxic firefighting foams harming firefighters and polluting drinking water near airports across the county, Congress took action in 2018. Sec 332 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (PL: 115-254) gave the FAA three years to adjust its requirements for airports to allow the use of firefighting foams that do not contain dangerous PFAS. Monday, October 4, 2021, was the FAA’s due date to allow civilian airports to use firefighting foams without toxic PFAS chemicals. 

The FAA has not done enough in the past three years to help airports move to safer foams that are already in use around the world.  At the eleventh hour, FAA issued a classic DC doublespeak ‘CertAlert‘ to airports announcing that the firefighting foam standard that applies to airports no longer requires the use of fluorinated chemicals (i.e. PFAS). However, it failed to change the requirement for airports to meet the military standard, which is based on how fluorinated foams perform. The FAA says airports can seek approval for PFAS-free foams—but lays out no clear path for them to achieve this approval.  

In essence, PFAS firefighting foams are still required at America’s airports because they are the only foams that can meet the military performance specification required by FAA.

This was not the intent of Congress when it directed the FAA to actually allow the use of PFAS-free foams by October 4, 2021.”…