APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was in the city of Appleton on Monday to celebrate the start of a collection and disposal program for PFAS-containing firefighter foam waste.

North Shore Environmental Construction, Inc., a Wisconsin-based company, will be collecting and disposing of at least 25,000 gallons of PFAS-containing material from fire departments throughout Wisconsin.

“Removing PFAS-containing firefighting foam from our local fire houses is an important step in not only protecting firefighters from occupational exposure to PFAS but also protecting our land and water from contamination during emergency fire operations,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole.

Under Wisconsin state law, using PFAS-containing firefighting foam is prohibited except during emergency firefighting operations or during testing at a facility with measures in place to prevent the discharge of the foam to the environment and sewer.

Many departments have made the switch over to PFAS-free foam alternatives and have been storing PFAS-containing foam in their stations because of the cost associated with disposing the foam.

“We are grateful to be one of the first departments to host a collection visit,” said Appleton Fire Chief Jeremy Hansen. “We have gathered hundreds of gallons of PFAS-containing firefighting foam for safe disposal through this program. This is one of many steps we are taking to protect our firefighters, residents and environment from PFAS exposure.”

PFAS, otherwise known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of human-made chemicals used in numerous products, including Class B firefighting foams used to extinguish flammable liquid fires. The chemicals do not break down easily in the environment and can cause negative health impacts to humans.

“We appreciate the Governor and legislature’s investment in protecting our firefighting community and the communities they serve,” said Fire Chief Michael Stanley of the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association. “We are pleased with the enthusiasm and drive by our fire departments to support the quick and effective implementation of the $1 million program and our partnership with the DNR and DATCP.”

More information about PFAS-containing firefighting foam, including updates on this collection program, is available on the DNR website.