Excerpt from this story from the Wall Street Journal:
From her backyard, Sandy Estell can see an incinerator—a white complex of buildings along the Ohio River—owned by a company with a Defense Department contract to burn more than 800,000 gallons of firefighting foam and related waste.
The aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, contains hard-to-destroy chemicals once used in Teflon cookware and other products. The compounds—known as forever chemicals because they take so long to break down—were also widely used for decades on military sites and elsewhere to smother fires.
Ms. Estell and others say they are concerned about incinerating the chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, because they have been linked to several types of cancer and health problems like high cholesterol.
Water contamination from PFAS is a growing concern nationwide. Now communities in several states fear the chemicals could be in their air.
The primary options for disposing of PFAS-containing materials are to put them in a landfill or to incinerate them, which has become increasingly controversial. The federal Environmental Protection Agency said in August that incinerating PFAS “is not well understood” and that it is studying the process. Some experts worry that incomplete combustion could release toxic chemicals into the air.
PFAS aren’t considered hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, or listed as hazardous waste under federal law. The EPA said the extent to which PFAS-containing materials are incinerated also isn’t well known.
The Defense Department has a stockpile of foam it can no longer use. There are more than 600 military installations nationwide with a known or suspected release of PFAS from firefighting foam into the groundwater, according to department data.