Statement in Support of New Hampshire HB 141 — An ACT requiring the Department of Environmental Services to maintain a public registry of where certain fire suppressants have been used.

http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/billText.aspx?sy=2021&id=88&txtFormat=html

METHODOLOGY:

This bill requires the Department of Environmental Services to maintain a public registry of where certain fire suppressants have been used. The Department of Environmental Services indicates this bill would require it to establish a publicly available registry for compilation and analysis of information related to the sites where Class B firefighting foam has been discharged, stored, captured, collected, managed or disposed. The Department would be required to adopt rules relative to the content and design of forms for reporting use of the firefighting foam. The Department states an additional 1/2 FTE position of Environmentalist IV will be necessary to create and maintain reporting forms and develop and maintain the electronic registry.

As no funding is provided for staff time, it is assumed all costs would come from the State General Fund. The Department estimates the cost of the position will be $51,000 in FY 2022, $52,000 in FY 2023 and $54,000 in FY 2024. Aside from the necessary position, the State fiscal impact is indeterminable.

There would be no fiscal impact to county and local government. The Department assumes existing fire department staff in each town would assume responsibility for reporting Class B foam use to the Department.

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We stand in strong support of H.B.141 for a variety of reasons, however, firefighter PFAS exposure education, elevation, tracking, and tracing, along with medical monitoring and health studies are the wheelhouse of our advocacy. I’m Diane Cotter, wife of Lt Paul Cotter, retired Worcester Fire Department 28 year veteran and cancer survivor, and firefighter PFAS exposure advocate.

From the IPEN White Paper of October 2019:

New Hampshire’s own history with 3M — the manufacturer of Class B AFFF for decades — is notably not in favor of NH residents as 3M fights NH State precautions, intentions, and ability to protect its own citizens in order to maintain their control of the scope of the PFAS problem in our state and every state they have skidded through.

New Hampshire is a leader in firefighter PFAS exposure initiatives, studies, legislation, and has the strongest delegation of Congressionals we have had the pleasure to work with when it comes to firefighters and PFAS used in their AFFF and in the most highly fluorinated textile seen by science, their turnout gear.

Because of the support of Senators Shaheen, Hassan, Governor Sununu, Representatives, Kuster and Pappas who are champions for firefighters PFAS exposure actions, we feel they would support the expansion of this urgent need in the fire community.

In response to needing additional resources for positions within a department to gather this material, the long overdue need to track and register toxic AFFF outweighs the potential opposition to this aspect of the job. These are toxic exposures — and no different than any other chemical exposure that must be reported as part of the daily work by the officers of these departments that serve their communities.

As the firefighter PFAS exposure experience grows, one of the areas that will benefit the citizens of NH is to log exposures for its firefighters. This is done on a daily basis by all over the country when they respond to any incident, be it a medical emergency, a fire, or a hazardous material call.

There are numerous apps that are free of charge for this and as advocates for this issue we cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that firefighters protect themselves and their families by logging their exposure on these apps. The same goes for our municipalities who are paying the cost of firefighters stricken with cancers that are known to be affiliated with PFAS chemicals, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other known illness affiliated with PFOA and PFOS.

In the coming months and years, the best gifT New Hampshire could give itself is the requirement of record keeping on this initiative. In our work we speak with firefighters who recount their own AFFF use as they file claims for compensation, and are saddled with trying to recall what incident they used Class B foam at going back decades in their careers — as their cancers are now prevalent in their bodies.

If you have no records to show of exposures to these carcinogens you may not have the ability to protect the citizens who may wish to claim damages recover liability for property damage, from deniers with endless amounts of money in their coffers who scoff at the thought that their chemicals are harmful.

AFFF manufacturers have a long history of awarding ‘perks and incentives’ in the form of ‘gifts, trips, dinners, etc to firefighters in efforts to keep them ‘close’. This has led to a false sense of protection within the fire service.

This is magnified by the fact that makers of Class B foam belong to the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition who provides junk science, industry led science, to the fire service for them to swallow.

This is evident in the FFFC response to the IPEN paper on Fluorine Free Foams of April 2019, where the FFFC would like firefighters to believe that the C6 replacement is not harmful.

This statement alone from the FFFC is what we would call ‘misleading’ as they themselves are the lobbying organization for holding the line on Capitol Hill convincing legislators that the C6 replacements are safe. This statement in effect is saying that because they have been successful in their greenwashing campaign that we should believe their propaganda.

The IPEN paper incorrectly states that all AFFF agents contain fluorosurfactants that are toxic and bioaccumulative. It does not acknowledge the clear differences in environmental impact between legacy AFFF agents that contain some long-chain fluorosurfactants and current-day AFFF agents that contain only short-chain fluorosurfactants. It also omits mention of PFAS regulations in the European Union, Canada and the United States that ban or restrict the sale of products containing long-chain PFAS while allowing for the continued sale of products containing short-chain

This is dangerous to communities, and immediately dangerous to firefighters.

FFFC April 2019 Response to IPEN:

https://b744dc51-ddb0-4c4a-897d-1466c1ae1265.filesusr.com/ugd/331cad_073fb784906d4e818d1323c1e10ee8c5.pdf

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However, the most repulsive scene yet by the makers of Class B AFFF is the exchange between Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the VP’s of 3M, DuPont, Chemours, during the House Oversight Hearing of September, 2019 — The Devil They Knew, see link to full awkward exchange:

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New Hampshire DES was first in the nation in 2017 to advise firefighters to test the well water in their fire houses, and has written strong language that showcases the concern the State of NH has for its firefighters. We see no reason for NH DES to not continue as a leader in the role of initiating this AFFF registry for its bravest and its citizens who are living in fear of unknown toxicity exposure in a day and age when electronic data is collected, sent and stored in milliseconds.

Please see attachments below from the states of Minnesota, and Michigan, who have tracked the AFFF within the firehouses and the declarations they have made.

The Environmental Working Group has recently published a decade’s long look back into the plight of the firefighter and AFFF and PPE toxic PFAS exposure:

Our gratitude to Representatives; Rung, Unger, Petrigno, Meuse, Cushing, Levesque, Weston, Sherman, and the Honorable Former Rep Olson Murphy.

Sincerely,

Diane and Lt. Paul Cotter (ret) Worcester, MA Fire Department Rindge, New Hampshire 03461

New Hampshire

Approximately 176 fire stations: https://www.50states.com/new_hampshire/fire_departments.htm

https://www4.des.state.nh.us/nh-pfas-investigation/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Fire_Department_H20Sample.pdf

October 2, 2017 Subject: Recommended Sampling of Drinking Water Wells at Fire Stations for PFAS Compounds Dear Fire Departments: The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is recommending fire departments that obtain drinking water from an on-site water supply well, voluntarily test their water for poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to ensure the drinking water used at these facilities is safe for fire department personnel and others that use these facilities.

https://www.nhpr.org/post/nh-asks-local-fire-depts-test-wells-contaminants-could-spread-nearby-homes#stream/0

http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/nhpr/files/firestation_results_des_12-4-17.pdf

DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY — STATE FIRE MARSHAL DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Joint Informational Bulletin — PFAS/Class B Firefighting Foam January 1, 2020

Background: PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals. They have been used for decades in products such as clothing, carpets, fabrics for furniture, adhesives, packaging for food, non-stick cookware, and other household items but also in fire protection equipment and firefighting foam. Firefighting foam with PFAS can enter the environment in multiple ways including (but not limited to) through applications associated with emergencies (fire or hazardous materials releases); system discharge or false activation; firefighter training; and system testing. Firefighting foam with PFAS can get into ground water and contaminate wells and drinking water supplies, as well as expose firefighters and others to PFAS. The use of firefighting foams containing PFAS constitutes an urgent public health challenge where action and associated changes are needed to limit future contamination and to reduce exposure to firefighters and New Hampshire residents.

https://www4.des.state.nh.us/nh-pfas-investigation/wp-content/uploads/PFAS-Foam-Fact-Sheet-FINAL.pdf

3M’s own AFFF documents show it knew of the toxicity of its product. Why wouldn’t we have a registry for AFFF in an effort to hold 3M and others responsible for their toxic products?

Internal documents show 3M hid PFAS dangers for decades

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/05/09/3-m-lawsuit-pfas-water-contamination-michigan/3291156002/

A 3M environmental specialist, in a scathing resignation letter, accused company officials of being “unethical” and more “concerned with markets, legal defensibility and image over environmental safety” when it came to PFAS, the emerging contaminant causing a potential crisis throughout Michigan and the country.

PFOS, one of 3M’s chief PFAS products, “is the most insidious pollutant since PCB,” Richard Purdy stated in his March 28, 1999, resignation letter, referring to a compound used in 3M’s ScotchGard stain-protection product line, among other uses.

“It is probably more damaging than PCB because it does not degrade, whereas PCB does; it is more toxic to wildlife,” he stated, adding that PFOS’s end point in the environment appeared to be plants and animals, not soil and sediment like PCB.

July, 2018 — Michigan DEC provides data that declares all 1,487 fire stations a potential PFAS contamination site due to the AFFF housed and trained with.

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/07/30/deq-pfas-chemical-contamination-pollution-michigan/851152002/

The DEQ provided the observation on the contaminants as part of a presentation to the Michigan Environmental Compliance Conference in Lansing last month, displaying a series of maps with various facilities that could have PFAS contamination: 1,487 fire stations across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas; 27 municipal airports; 519 waste-water treatment plants, and more. All told, more than 11,300 sites were listed in the presentation maps.

Minnesota: The Delta Project of 2008–600 page report on statewide fire deparments and their use of Class A and Class B foams — includes a comprehensive look into amounts used, brands, and use of AFFF near a Source Water Assessment Area along with recommendations.

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/pfc-foamreport-addendum.pdf

Delta Consultants (Delta) was retained and authorized by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to conduct additional survey activities into the use of firefighting foams containing perflourocarbons (PFCs) in the State of Minnesota. The additional survey activities were based on the conclusions and recommendations presented in Delta’s Perfluorocarbon (PFC)-Containing Firefighting Foams and Their Use In Firefighting Training in Minnesota report dated June 30, 2008 (the June 30th Report). The goal of the survey activities is to identify sites in Minnesota where certain types of PFCs of particular environmental concern at this time, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perflourobutanoic acid (PFBA), and others, may be present in the environment due to the repeated use of firefighting foams at firefighting training locations. The June 30th Report concluded that surfactants used in Class B firefighting foams are manufactured with PFCs. Firefighting foams formerly manufactured by 3M were made using a proprietary process and are known to contain or break down to PFOS and PFOA. The surfactants in Class B firefighting foams manufactured by companies other than 3M were made using a telomerization process and cannot break down to PFOS, but may break down to PFOA and other PFC compounds. Class A foams and training foams are not made with PFC-based surfactants and are therefore not a source of PFCs in the environment.

Post Script: There was opposition on this bill. The indication from numerous representatives at the hearing was that H.B.141 would be a hardship for communities that did not have the resources to look back 30 years to determine the use of AFFF. There was discussion that the bill has merit on a go forward basis. We’ll wait to see what happens next as there is to be another hearing on an amendment for H.B.141

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Diane Cotter

A very private individual who fell into a very public rabbit hole of epic proportions. I’ve learned the chemical industry , DuPont 3M, own the fire service.