FAIRBORN — Carcinogenic chemicals are entering people's water supplies and harming firefighters.

Today, Ohio launched the nation's first program to permanently destroy chemicals.

“There is no denying that firefighting is a dangerous profession beyond the risks posed by flames. But initiatives like the[water-based film-forming foam]recovery program represent significant progress in mitigating those risks. ,” said Richard Sluder, deputy fire marshal for the Ohio Division of the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Forever chemicals are long-lasting chemicals that slowly break down over thousands of years.

PFAS quenchers help destroy PFAS, also known as permanent chemicals.

>> Report: PFAS may be present in all major drinking water supplies in the United States

Forever chemicals are found in the firefighting foam used by fire departments, known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).

They seep into the ground and reach local water supplies.

Gov. Mike DeWine banned the use of whisks in 2022, but efforts are now underway to remove any leftovers.

“By eliminating stockpiles of AFFF- and PFAS-contaminated materials, we are taking an important step in protecting our water sources and protecting the well-being of our communities,” Sluder said.

The Ohio EPA said the new technology has been tested since 2018.

>> Forever chemicals in pet food, baby clothes, and more: What you need to know

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Ann Vogel said chemicals will forever be a focus for the agency.

“Following the science, we tested public water systems several years ago and now we can collect this material from fire departments across the state,” Vogel said.

She said the EPA will hold take-back events in all areas of the state where fire departments can safely remove foam.

“Providing a free solution will result in a safer working environment for firefighters in all departments,” Sluder said.

The Ohio EPA said it will continue searching for contaminated water in Ohio, but it has only scratched the surface.

If you have questions about this program, please call 614-424-3221 or email OHAFFFSupport@battelle.org.

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