Chemical used to fight hazardous fuel fires can be harmful to environment

A foam that is used to put out fires, might be contaminating Michigan's drinking water.

It's called P-FAS foam and it's used for fires involving hazardous materials --not your typical house fire.

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer isn't sure where the foam has been used or how much is still out there, so he is urging fire departments across the state to speak up.

"We feel that we need to reach out to get an idea of how much is still out there," he said.

P-FAS foam has been used to fight fires involving things like oil and other flammable liquids for years, but only recently has found to cause harm. News 10 spoke with Sean Hammond of the Michigan Environmental Council, who says it's has been found in 15 areas statewide including two in Lansing. He told me us it has not contaminated any water here in mid-Michigan, but it has in other parts of the state.

"Widely distributed and widely used. And really until just recently we never really had any understanding of the full ramifications of it," he said.

Environmentalists learned from recent studies that P-FAS can cause cancers, thyroid problems, developmental issues and prenatal problems. That's why the fire marshal is urging fire departments to tell him how much they have and where they've used it. He says there is a replacement, they just need time to switch it out.

"We want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence to identify where its at to work to a solution and a safer alternative," Sehlmeyer said.

Environmental groups are glad the state is doing something to address the problem before it gets out of hand. They say the survey is a step in the right direction to getting P-FAS out of the environment.

"We really do need to get a handle on who has this, when it was used, how its been used, so we can ultimately get it out of use," Hammond said.