By Miriam Raftery
September 9, 2020 (Sacramento) – Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 1044 into law to protect firefighters and public water supplies from PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) found in firefighting foams used to combat industrial fires such as at airports, refineries and chemical plants. The cancer-causing “forever” chemicals, which never break down and are tied to many other health problems, are not used in the foams used to fight wildfires.
The bill passed the State Senate and Assembly unanimously, though East County’s legislators, Senator Brian Jones and Assemblyman Randy Voepel, did not vote.
A study of California firefighters found blood levels of PFAS three times higher than in others.
Firefighting foam with PFAS have resulted in pollution of drinking water including over 300 wells representing nearly100 public water systems serving 7.5 million Californians, the legislative analyst reported. Separate from this bill, the state is working to develop enforceable regulatory standards for PFAS in water.