firefighter foamSPRINGFIELD – Illinois will begin phasing out toxic PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam under a new law sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that was signed into law on Friday.

“PFAS exposure has been shown to have serious health consequences, including kidney issues and cancer,” Ellman said. “We need to act if we wish to decrease the public’s exposure, especially firefighters.”

Per-and polyfluoradlkyl substances, frequently 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 in Illinois to protect firefighters from potentially toxic exposure while keeping chemical waste out of landfills and waterways, helping to keep Illinois’ environment healthy. 

“Reducing harmful forever chemicals is necessary for protecting our health and the environment,” said State Representative Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), the House sponsor of the law. “I am happy to be part of a solution that will phase out these toxic substances being used in firefighting foam."

There are more than 100 alternative foams that can be used as viable replacements, and Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York have already banned the use of PFAS chemicals.

Senate Bill 561 is effective immediately.