PFAS firefighting foam to be banned in NSW

The NSW Government has banned PFAS firefighting foam except in catastrophic circumstances or where there are special circumstances.

The changes include a ban on the use of PFAS firefighting foams for all training and demonstration purposes from next month (April 2021) as well as restrictions on the sale and use of PFAS firefighting foam in portable fire extinguishers, and on the use of long-chain PFAS firefighting foam from September 2022.

Few exceptions apply and the changes will be staged to come into effect over the next 19 months to allow suppliers and users of PFAS firefighting foams and portable fire extinguishers to find alternative systems and practices, or to apply for exemptions if eligible.

While PFAS firefighting foams are very effective at extinguishing catastrophic fires, their use, particularly for training and demonstration purposes, is a key cause of PFAS contamination in the NSW environment.

The changes in what circumstances PFAS firefighting foams can be used, balances the impacts of PFAS firefighting foams on the NSW environment with the need to fight catastrophic fires that can impact property and lives.

The changes are applied under the new Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (PFAS Firefighting Foam) Regulation 2021.