Controversial Foam containing “Forever Chemicals” was used to put out a fire at a chemical plant.
Officials are conducting tests after raising concerns about a foam used to put out the last of the Chemtool chemical plant fire in Illinois, suspecting that dangerous substances from the foam may have contaminated surface water and groundwater in the United States, according to NBC Chicago.
On Monday, an explosion at the Chemtool plant outside Rockton, Illinois, sparked a four-day fight to put out the fires, raising concerns about the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals in the neighborhood.
On Thursday, officials reported a private business, U.S. Fire Pump, had been called in to help put out the fire. For a few hours on Tuesday, Fire Pump sprayed a foam containing polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the blazing building. Government regulators had expressed worry about the poisonous foam the day before, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“If they controlled the substance so that it doesn’t leave the area, that’s good,” Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, told the Associated Press. However, you won’t be able to completely prevent it from hitting the ground; part of it will run off.”
“The trouble with these chemicals is that they never go away,” she added.
On Monday, officials from Illinois’ environment department raised concerns with Chemtool about the use of PFAS-containing foam, according to the EPA. PFAS are chemicals found in household and industrial products that have been linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer and damage to organs such as the liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland.
Because these PFAS do not disintegrate in the environment or in the human body, they are referred to as “forever chemicals.”
There has been no evidence of contamination of the groundwater or the neighboring Rock River, although the areas are still being investigated.
The Illinois EPA said in a statement, “We will be totally upfront with the public and disclose test results and further information as soon as we are able to do so.”
Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson noted during a news conference on Thursday that after learning that PFAS-containing foam was being utilized, he instructed the manufacturer to switch to a different foam that did not contain any PFAS.
“Since then, there has been foam that does not contain. This is a condensed version of the information.