Colorado Division of Aeronautics completes initiative to minimize environmental impacts of toxic chemicals in firefighting foam at Colorado airports

Initiative to Minimize Impacts of Toxic Chemicals at Colorado Airports
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 12:41 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Colorado Division of Aeronautics completed a statewide initiative to minimize environmental impacts of toxic chemicals in firefighting foam at Colorado airports. It’s a chemical called PFAS, and it is widely used and effective when combating fire. However, recent research has shown that this chemical is getting into drinking water and can be harmful to humans so the Colorado Aeronautical Board is looking to eliminate those risks.

The Colorado Aeronautics Division says one of the things airports are required to provide is aircraft rescue firefighting service and when they use that emergency service they must use a firefighting foam that, for years, has contained PFAS or polyfluoroalkyl substances. This chemical can also be found in items such as non stick cook ware but it’s proven to be problematic if it ends up in groundwater and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, and thyroid disease. David Ulane, the Director of The Division of Aeronautics, states, “This initiative really gave us the unique ability to take on two things at once. Help airports protect their local environment and help them continue to be safe and efficient.”

The Colorado Aeronautical Board approved $400,000 in state aviation funding to help airports acquire equipment at no cost to them so that they can do the required testing of the foam without the need to spray or discharge it into the environment. This provides a proactive approach in helping take action of our environment and Colorado’s local communities by breaking the chain of exposure to these toxic chemicals and preventing further contamination.

In total, twelve eligible airports participated in the program, with the exception of Denver International Airport, which already had the equipment, and Colorado Springs Airport where aircraft rescue and firefighting services are provided by the U.S. Air Force. The mission of the Colorado Division of Aeronautics is to support Colorado’s multi-modal transportation system by advancing a safe, efficient, and effective statewide aviation system through collaboration, investment and advocacy.

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