AFFF Foam Regulations are Changing

Current changes to Aqueous Foam Fire Fighting systems have some building owners foaming at the mouth.

AFFF Foam has been on the market in different concentrates for years. AFFF, is a fire suppressant used to fight flammable liquid fires. Recently studies have shown that some of the AFFF agents containing polyfluoroalkyl substances or (PFASs) are toxic.

Historically foam systems have been mainly used in;

  • Civil and military aviation
  • Oil industry
  • manufacturing and mining
  • Fire Departments
  • Highway emergency response

PFASs prohibited under the regulations

  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate, its salts and its precursors (collectively referred to as PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid, its salts and its precursors (collectively referred to as PFOA)
  • long-chain (C9-C20) Perfluorocarboxylic acids, their salts and their precursors (collectively referred to as LC-PFCAs)

PFOS have been regulated since 2008. It was originally regulated under the Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations (the PFOS Regulations). In 2016, PFOS was added to the regulations and the PFOS Regulations were repealed. PFOA and LC-PFCAs were added to the regulations in 2016.

Exemptions under the regulations

The regulations prohibit the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and import of PFOS, PFOA and LC-PFCAs with a limited number of exemptions.

The regulations allow:

  • the use of AFFF that contains residual levels of PFOS at a maximum concentration of 10 ppm.
  • the use and import of AFFF contaminated with PFOS in a military vessel or military fire-fighting vehicle returning from a foreign military operation.
  • the import, use, sale and offer for sale of AFFF that contains PFOA and/or LC-PFCAs used in fire-fighting.

These exemptions accommodate:

  • the residual levels of PFOS that remain in fire-fighting equipment as a result of historical use of the substance,
  • the transition to alternatives to PFOA and/or LC-PFCAs.

Determining levels of PFASs in AFFF

To find out if your AFFF contains PFOS, PFOA and/or LC-PFCAs, you should refer to the safety data sheet for the product or contact your AFFF supplier/manufacturer. Remember we’re here to help.

Use and disposal

Dispose of AFFF that contains PFOS, PFOA and/or LC-PFCAs at an authorized hazardous waste management facility. In Canada, provinces and territories have jurisdiction over the licensing and permitting of disposal facilities.

Many Foam systems have to meet certain design criteria. It usually isn’t as simple and removing the old foam and adding the new. Foam concentrations matter and need to be designed correctly.

Going Forward

There is a lot of concerning information here. The manufacturers we support are a wealth of knowledge and support. We also reference Environment Canada and other sources to ensure accuracy.

We’re here to clear the smoke and answer your questions.

Thompson office is moving on Nov 30, 2022

The new address is: B-200 Hayes Rd, Thompson, MB R8N 1M4