Wisconsin DNR board to vote on starting draft of new PFAS restrictions

MADISON — The state Department of Natural Resources board is set to vote next week on whether to allow the agency to begin drafting regulations implementing restrictions on firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.

Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill in February that bans the use of firefighting foam except in emergencies and testing at facilities with DNR-approved containment and disposal protocols.

The DNR must write regulations implementing the restrictions by September. The department's board is set to vote on an outline of the regulations, known as a scope statement, on June 24. Approval would allow the agency to start drafting the regulations.

According to the statement, fire departments have estimated the cost of collecting and disposing of foam with PFAS could run as much as $50 per gallon. The total gallons of foam in Wisconsin is unknown; the DNR is trying to calculate that figure through a survey.

A similar survey found Michigan had 36,000 gallons in 2018. Wisconsin has fewer fire departments than Michigan, the statement said, indicating Wisconsin should have less foam.

PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Studies of laboratory animals given large amounts of PFAS have found that some PFAS may affect growth and development, reproduction, thyroid function, the immune system and the liver.