By Grant Lobdell, General Manager
The current, 2021 edition of NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam defines a synthetic fluorine-free foam (SFFF) as a “foam concentrate based on a mixture of hydrocarbon surface active agents that is not formulated to contain per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).” Preferring something more analytical, several organizations have taken it upon themselves to define or are currently considering defining the amount of PFAS more quantitatively. For example, Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen CertifiedTM Standard, which is advertised as “the world’s first ecolabel to confirm fluorine-free firefighting foam products”, defines the term fluorine-free as “zero intentionally added PFAS to the product and PFAS contamination in the product must be less than 0.0001 percent by weight of the product (1 part per million) total organic fluorine as measured by combustion ion chromatography.” The standard technical panel for UL 162 Standard for Foam Equipment and Liquid Concentrates is also currently considering a similar, quantitative limit for an upcoming revision which is to include several additions and changes concerning SFFF specifically.
Verify your product is truly “fluorine-free”
Dyne Fire Protection Labs is already equipped with the necessary combustion ion chromatography (CIC) equipment to determine total organic fluorine (TOF) content down to 1 part per million (ppm). If you are a manufacturer, end user, or a designated representative for an end user looking to confirm you meet the ever-increasing regulations, our total PFAS analysis service can help.
As end users are required to replace their existing aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), which contain PFAS, with a fluorine-free alternative, our Total PFAS analysis service can prove to be quite valuable. Should records be scarce, our analysis will be able to confirm whether a concentrate in question is an AFFF or SFFF. Note that while the level of SFFF is defined as less than 1 ppm TOF, AFFF concentrates typically contain anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 ppm (0.5 to 2%) TOF, so disentangling the two in this way is relatively easy. In addition, our total PFAS analysis can be used to confirm the amount of TOF in any rinse water collected during the retrofit. Such data could be used to support a claim that any components not replaced as part of retrofit have been adequately cleaned, at least to the level at or below the SFFF being introduced. The data could also be used when discussing disposal considerations with the local waste treatment plants and environmental protection agencies.
What our total PFAS analysis cannot do
As the name implies, our total PFAS analysis service examines all the PFAS in solution. As a result, we can not help those individuals looking for a concentration of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and/or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), just two of the thousands of compounds classified as PFAS. Regulations do certainly still exist limiting just these or just a handful of other PFAS so please consult your local regulations to truly understand if all PFAS is being restricted or just a few. Also note the current quantification limit for determining TOF by CIC is 1 ppm. Those that are required to prove much lower detection limits, such as part per trillion (ppt), should seek out a laboratory offering more targeted analysis such as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)/mass spectroscopy(MS) or total oxidizable precursor (TOP) assay, which is capable of meeting such low detection limits albeit only for a handful of PFAS.
If you are interested in having Dyne Fire Protection Labs analyze a sample of your foam concentrate or system water, you can request a free sampling kit(s) online (dyneusa.com), by email (email@example.com), or by phone (800-632-2304). Sample kits include free shipping to our customers in the contiguous United States. For those that wish to utilize their own sampling containers, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are recommended. It is also recommended you provide 100-250 mL of sample. Sample forms can be found and submitted online (recommended) or included with the sample. Note that first time customers will be asked to setup an account with Dyne Fire Protection Labs before the first kits are shipped and/or the first samples are analyzed.
As with all our other services, results will be in your inbox in 5 business days or less with next business day, rush testing available as well for an additional fee. Please contact Dyne Fire Protection Labs for current pricing information.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Dyne Fire Protection Labs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 632-2304.