Foam Over Troubled Toxics

by Kneeland A. Godfrey, Jr., Sr. Ed.; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 2, Pg. 46-48

Document Type: Feature article


Foams are now being used to control noxious vapor emissions from hazardous waste landfills. Another use of foams is in control of vapors emitted by chemical spills and fires. This article describes two practice-guidance documents, which were written to help firefighters, because they are most communities' emergency responders and must deal with fires and spills of materials they aren't familiar with. The results of two major U.S. chemical accidents—a spill and a fire—where foams were not used, or not used soon enough are described. As a result, in the first case the dangerous gases were dangerous for a longer time than if foam had been used, and in the latter, for several hours firemen used water rather than foam, generating thousands of gallons of contaminated water that polluted the groundwater. Also described is current EPA research whose goal is to prevent more tragedies like that at Bhopal, India (at least in cases where the gas release is within a building).

Subject Headings: Toxicity | Hazardous wastes | Chemicals | Hazardous materials spills | Fires | Groundwater pollution | Emissions | Recycling | India | Asia

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