New C6 Foams - Why They Matter to You
C6 AFFF’s have now been approved for use in both the USA and Europe.
After nearly twelve years of research by several international committees and many debates, the ‘new’ C6 AFFF technology has been approved by:
- USA - EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
- ECHA (European Chemical Agency)
This means that, as of February 2016, C6 AFFF’s are approved for use and, importantly, AFFF’s using a carbon chain length greater than C6 can no longer be manufactured or sold in the USA or Europe.
Since 2014 our range of Fire Fighting Foams has been manufactured using only C6 fluorosurfactants!
All of our AFFF formulations have been developed to accommodate the change to C6 technology and have been requalified to meet the necessary highly respected International Standards such as:
- UL 162
- EN 1568 Parts 3&4
- ICAO Levels B/C
- IMO MSC.1
Why is C6 important?
All AFFF's have traditionally contained telomer-based fluorosurfactants. These fluorosurfactants provide AFFF's with low surface tension and a positive spreading coefficient which enables film formation over lighter liquids, such as hydrocarbons.
In 2002, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressed concern that some telomer-based fluorosurfactants could break down in the environment into Perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) or other Perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCA’s). These break down chemicals are classified as PBT’s, i.e. persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.
The EPA’s concern focussed on Long Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals (LCPFC’s) containing eight carbons or more (C8, C10, C12).
Research has shown that telomer-based fluorosurfactants with a short chain (C6 or below) can not degrade in the environment into PFOA or other PFCA’s. C6 telomer-based fluorosurfactants also are not bioaccumulative or toxic to the environment.
Accordingly, fluorosurfactant manufacturers worldwide (with the exception so far of China) have agreed to withdraw telomer-based fluorosurfactants with a chain length greater than C6.
AFFF manufacturers have now reformulated their formulations to use only C6 telomer-based fluorosurfactants.
Important recent developments
- In 2014, the US-EPA issued a SNUR (Significant New Use Rule) banning the manufacture, importation or processing of LCPFC’s leaving the way open for fire fighting foam manufacturers to make AFFFs using C6 technology.
- In February 2016, the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Committee for Socioeconomic Analysis (SEAC) released a statement declaring the maximum quantifiable limits of PFOA and PFOA-related substances allowed in C6 telomer chemistry. An exemption was allowed for fire fighting foam which uses C6 chemistry.
- Following on from the RAC and SEAC statement, in February 2016 the European Chemical Agency, ECHA, issued an exemption ruling which allows AFFF’s using C6 technology to be manufactured and sold within Europe. C6 AFFF’s are now officially approved for use in both the USA and Europe.
Should you require any further information on this important subject, please click on the following links:
Still got questions?
Let’s talk! Click here to arrange a meeting or give me a call to discuss further on +44 (0) 1561 361515.
Posted by David Evans, 24th March 2016