Sunrise of PFAS Replacements: A Perspective on Fluorine-Free Foams

By Mohamed Ateia, Jean Van Buren, William Barrett, Todd Martin, and Gerard G. Back
ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng.
May 15, 2023
DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.3c01124

One type of firefighting foam, referred to as aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), is known to contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The concerns raised with PFAS, and their potential environmental and health impacts, have led to a surge in research on fluorine-free alternatives both in the United States and globally. Particularly, in January 2023, a new military specification (MIL-PRF-32725) for fluorine-free foam was released in accordance with Congressional requirements for the U.S. Department of Defense. This paper provides a critical analysis of the present state of the various fluorine-free options that have been developed to date. A nuanced perspective of the challenges and opportunities of more sustainable replacements is explored by examining the performance, cost, and regulatory considerations associated with these fluorine-free alternatives. Ultimately, this evaluation shows that the transition to fluorine-free replacements is likely to be complex and multifaceted, requiring careful consideration of the trade-offs involved. Yet, the ongoing work will provide valuable insights for future research on alternatives to AFFF and enhancing the safety and sustainability of fire suppression systems.


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