An unseen hazard: Indiana to remove toxic firefighting foam, but contamination persists

  • Source: Jeffersonville News & Tribune
  • Published: 05/02/2022 12:00 AM

In the early 1980s, Indianapolis firefighter Tom Hanify was part of a training exercise using foam spray to put out a controlled house fire. After Hanify and the crew contained the blaze, they stuck around just to play in the foam. He said that at the time, the firefighters were just having fun. Now, looking back, there was nothing funny about it. That’s because Hanify now realizes that foam contained per-and-polyfluoroalkyl, “forever” chemicals that don’t break down and build up in the human body. Recent research has linked it to at least eight different kinds of cancer. “We were literally playing with this stuff and had no clue what we were doing,” said Hanify, who today serves as president of the Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana. It was the same story for nearly every Indiana fire department that used what is known as aqueous film-forming foam over the next four decades.


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