Congress passes aviation provision to provide alternatives to PFAS at domestic airports

October 4, 2018

The U.S. Senate passed legislation by a vote of 93-6 on October 3 to provide disaster relief funding and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. Within the broad legislation is a provision removing a requirement that domestic airports use firefighting foams containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Existing law requires FAA to follow military specifications, and the Department of Defense has not yet developed a suitable alternative to foams containing PFAS.

Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Representative Dale Kildee (D-Michigan) led the effort to get the provision included after airports expressed concerns about current or future environmental hazards and the associated remediation costs. The provision does not require airports to use PFAS-free foam.

The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

At a recent Senate hearing on PFAS, DoD Assistant Secretary Maureen Sullivan commented that alternative firefighting foams are being researched by the military, but at present it has not found one sufficiently meeting DoD requirements. However, firefighting foams containing PFAS are no longer used for training exercises and are only used in active situations.