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The US state of Washington has approved measures to regulate perfluorinated chemicals in firefighting foams. The prohibitions will be implemented in phases, starting July 1, 2018.

SAFEGUARDS | Hardlines NO. 048/18

SafeGuardS fire foam

On March 27, 2018, the governor of the US state of Washington signed ESSB 6413 (Chapter 286, Laws of 2018 [1]) into law to prohibit the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances chemicals in firefighting foams.

According to the definitions in the new law, ‘perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances’ or ‘PFAS chemicals’ are a family of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.

ESSB 6413 (Chapter 286, 2018 Laws), Firefighting-Toxic Chemical Use, will create a new Chapter under Title 70 RCW ‘Public Health and Safety [2]

Highlights of the new measures are summarized in Table 1.

Washington State, Chapter 286, 2018 Laws
ESSB 6413 ‘An act relating to reducing the use of certain toxic chemicals in firefighting activities; adding a new chapter to Title 70 RCW; and prescribing penalties’
Substance
Scope of Class B firefighting foam
Requirement
Effective Date
PFAS
Chemicals
Discharge or use for training
Prohibited*
July 1, 2018
Manufacture, knowingly sell, offer for sale, distribute for sale or use
Prohibited*
July 1, 2020

Note:

 *Prohibition does not apply for the use of PFAS chemicals as required by federal law such as 14 CFR 139.317 [3] ‘Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting: Equipment and Agents’, used at a terminal (fuel storage and distribution facility, RCW 82.23A.010 [4]) or at a chemical plant.

Table 1

PFAS chemicals are a diverse family of synthetic chemicals that are used in the manufacture of everyday products with anti-stain, water, grease, oil and/or dirt properties. Applications of these chemicals include the manufacture of the following products:

  • Firefighting foams
  • Food contact materials and articles
  • Stain-resistant carpets and upholstered furniture
  • Waterproof apparel

The use of PFAS chemicals is also regulated in a wide variety of consumer products. These include the following:

  • Food contact materials and articles under ESHB 2658 (Chapter 138, Laws 2018 [5]) in Washington State
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in consumer products under Proposition 65 (Prop 65 [6]) in California
  • PFOA and PFOA-related substances in consumer products under entry 60 to Annex XVII of REACH [7], a comprehensive piece of EU legislation for the management of substances.  

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy for PFAS chemicals in consumer products for the US and international markets.

Next step:

Stakeholders are advised to comply with the latest requirements for PFAS chemicals for the Washington market.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: +852 2774 7420

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