Gov. Tony Evers signs bill creating firefighting foam restrictions

MADISON — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed a Republican-authored bill Wednesday that imposes new restrictions on firefighting foam to curb pollution from PFAS chemicals.

The bill prohibits the use of foam containing intentionally added PFAS except in emergency fire situations. Firefighters will have to train with foam or other substances that don't contain the chemicals.

Foam containing PFAS could be used in testing as long as the facility has implemented state-approved containment and disposal measures to prevent released into the environment.

Violators will face forfeitures of up to $5,000 per incident.

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a wide range of products, including firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, and stain-resistant sprays. Research suggests that can cause a number of health ailments, including high blood pressure in pregnant women and cancer.

Tyco Fire Products discovered in 2013 that soil and well contamination on its Marinette fire training property contained PFAS. Four years later the company acknowledged that the chemicals had spread beyond the facility.

PFAS also has been detected in Madison wells. A 2017 assessment found heavy concentrations in soil and groundwater at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's Truax Field. The Department of Natural Resources says the chemicals are associated with firefighting foam.