The group of toxins, dubbed “forever chemicals” because of their longevity, were detected in Aullwood Audubon Farm Discovery Center’s drinking water system in Dayton in 2020. Levels of the contaminants have also been detected in several private wells in nearby neighborhoods.
Baldridge, a former firefighter, introduced a version of HB158 in 2019. Since then, it’s come up for a vote three times ― twice in committee and once on the House floor ― receiving unanimous support. It was voted out of committee 12-0 on May 5. Baldridge is confident the bill will continue to get broad support when it’s heard on the House floor, he said.
Rep. Brian Baldridge. Contributed
“Not only does this legislation benefit our communities by protecting our hard working first responders, but also by protecting our waterways from contamination,” he said. “I am hopeful that we will see this important legislation through the finish line in this General Assembly.”
Exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ― or PFAS ― can affect pregnancy, increase cholesterol levels and cause some forms of cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants and children, pregnant and nursing women, and those who have a compromised immune system may be at a higher risk of health effects as well.
For decades, the Dayton Fire Department used PFAS-based foam at its fire training center, 200 McFadden Ave. The city stopped using the product in recent years. PFAS-based firefighter foams also have been used at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The foam from the base and the city’s training center is believed to have contaminated parts of the Buried Valley Aquifer, which is the drinking water source for communities throughout the Miami Valley.
In 2018, Dayton filed a federal lawsuit against several companies that make firefighting foam to help with the cost of cleaning up PFAS. The companies include 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard Inc., Tyco Fire Products L.P., and National Foam Inc.
The city recently filed another lawsuit seeking damages of up to $300 million against Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Defense, accusing them of failing to stop water containing PFAS from flowing daily into the city’s Mad River Wellfield. The base and DoD have disputed the city’s claims, saying the groundwater near the base boundary is below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action levels.