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Politics

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher Sponsors Bill To Limit Use Of Chemicals In Firefighting Foams

Studies have linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to thyroid problems, immune deficiency and cancer.

Smoke rises from a fire burning at the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, east of Houston on March 18, 2019.

First responders have to use special foams to put out chemical fires like the recent ones in Deer Park and Crosby. The foams themselves may pose health risks, and Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher is trying to do something about it.

Studies have linked key chemicals in those firefighting foams to thyroid problems, immune deficiencies and cancer. The components are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Fletcher is sponsoring a bill that would direct the EPA to issue guidance about how to minimize the use of PFAS without putting first responders' lives at risk.

"Certainly the firefighting foam is important in fighting chemical fires," Fletcher said. "And so we need to understand when is the best time to use it and when there are other best practices that should be employed."

Firefighters used more than 130,000 gallons of foam to put out the ITC fire in Deer Park in March. High levels of PFAS were later found in the Houston Ship Channel, while lower levels were found further downstream, according to the Galveston Bay Foundation.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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