Articles & Advisories Publication: New York Law Journal

State’s Battle Against Firefighting Foam Intensifies

A new lawsuit, letters from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to Superfund and brownfield sites across the state, and a bill awaiting the governor’s action all seem to have at least one thing in common. They are targeting the existence of the chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the environment, with important implications for businesses and individuals in New York.

As I explained in my State Environmental Regulation column, “Addressing Concerns Over Chemicals in Drinking Water,” published in the New York Law Journal on September 12, 2016, PFOS and PFOA are fluorinated organic chemicals that are part of a larger group of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances. Resistant to water, grease, and stains, these chemicals were widely used in carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, and food packaging – and in firefighting foam used at airfields. Although PFOS and PFOA are no longer in widespread use, environmental regulators in recent years have paid particular attention to their accumulation in drinking water supplies. For example, in May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicated that exposure to PFOS and PFOA over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses and breast-fed infants, liver disease, and cancer. See, 81 Fed.Reg. 101 (May 25, 2016), available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/2016-12361.pdf.

Charlotte A. Biblow, a partner in the environmental, land use and municipal law and litigation departments of Farrell Fritz, can be reached at cbiblow@farrellfritz.com.

Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Thursday, July 26, 2018 Vol 260 – No. 18 

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