firefightersSPRINGFIELD – A measure introduced by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that would reduce PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam passed committee on Thursday.

“Evidence shows that exposure to PFAS found in firefighting foam can lead to numerous health issues, including cancer and kidney problems,” Ellman said. “We need to act now if we want to reduce the risk to the public, including our firefighters.”

Per - and polyfluoradlkyl substances, commonly called PFAS, are a large group of toxic chemicals that have the ability to repel oil and water, reduce friction, and put out fires. For these reasons, they are especially prevalent in firefighting foam.

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to negative health effects, like cancer, reproductive issues, and liver and kidney problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The measure would put Illinois on a path to phase out the production, distribution, sale and use of PFAS to protect firefighters from potentially toxic exposure and keep chemical waste out of landfills and waterways, helping to keep Illinois’ environment healthy. 

“The same properties that allow PFAS to put out fires are also what has made them such a problem,” Ellman said. “They’re durable and break down slowly, which makes them a long-lasting danger to our environment.”

Senate Bill 561 passed the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee with a vote of 10-0 and will now head to the Senate floor for further consideration.