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Study on current and historic levels of poly- and PFAS fire fighting foams in the Republic of Ireland

Sweco was appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver a study on determining both current and historic levels of poly- and perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) which is used in firefighting in the Republic of Ireland. Sweco worked in partnership with Miltcon Services Ltd to deliver the project.

Facts & Figures

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
April 2020 – December 2020
Primary Services
Environmental Compliance | Chemical Management

Project Overview

The project was driven by the requirements of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation which includes obligations in relation to two PFAS compounds which were/are found in AFFF. PFAS substances have been widely manufactured and used around the world since the 1950s and their highly stable nature means that they are resistant to degradation and in turn highly persistent within the environment.

As part of the study, surveys were issued to 254 entities across the public, utilities, aviation, marine and EPA licensed sectors. Consultations with the National Directorate of Fire and Emergency Management and the Institution of Fire Engineers along with foam suppliers were conducted. A benchmarking exercise with other EU countries was also conducted to identify best practice in reducing the use of PFAS-containing foams.

The study made a number of recommendations including the requirement to increase awareness within industry about legal obligations, the identification of suitable PFAS free alternatives, and further investigations into disposal routes for discarded foam and accidental releases.

This project, which was led by colleagues in our Cork office in partnership with Miltcon Services Ltd, also drew on the significant expertise of Niklas Törneman, a Swedish colleague, who is a technical expert on PFAS.