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Differentiating PFAS Series: How Do I Know What Gas Supplier I Can Use Following a Discharge of My Novec 1230 System?

If one is working through a distributor or an installing contractor that has a supply agreement or a contract with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the equipment that is listed using Novec 1230 fluid, they are likely listed with FK-5-1-12 from alternative suppliers as well. Novec 1230 is a neat (single component) agent. It is typically discharged from a cylinder with a nitrogen super pressurization or one with a separate nitrogen tank design used in a piston flow fashion giving a “push” to it.

It is recommended that one first checks with the original equipment manufacturer and their representative installing contractor to make sure they are supplying it with a listed or approved system. And second, make sure that they have a certificate of analysis assuring the quality of the clean agent material.

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Differentiating PFAS Series: What is the Future Liability Potential for Using Clean Agents?

 

There has not been a sufficient concern to compel regulatory authorities to put restrictions on the use of Halon from a persistent standpoint, and for other reasons. The PFCs, HFCs, and HCFCs, are all being regulated for other reasons, based on ozone depletion potential (ODP), global warming potential (GWP), and so forth. The European ECHA has a proposal in place but at this point in time, clean agents are considered for derogation in the proposal.

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Differentiating PFAS Series: Should I Be Worried About the Future of Novec 1230?


In December 2022, 3M announced its plans to exit the manufacturing of 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and their fluorochemical line of products completely by 2025, shocking the fire protection industry, as no one saw it coming. There is still a lot of excitement and maybe some angst or concern out in the marketplace. The best advice is to stay calm because regulatory resolution is not something that will unfold very quickly. There currently exist proposed changes offered or enacted state legislation that have taken place, particularly here in the United States. Even with current action, time is needed to determine what really needs to be done. There will be much discussion but watch for action.

Halocarbon clean agents are not going away anytime soon. Halon manufacturing was banned in Article One countries back on December 31st, 1992, at 11:59 PM EST, yet decades later we still see halon systems in use. This is not to say that things will be exactly the same for systems using Novec 1230 fluid, but these things do not tend to move very quickly. What is important is that halocarbons are not going away anytime soon, and 3M has made it clear that they plan to honor their commitments to fulfill orders of the product already made.


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Differentiating PFAS Series: Industry Assessment of Trifluoroacetic Acid (TFA) and the PFAS Problem


Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) actually meets the definition of PFAS because it has a CF3 radical on the molecule. Researchable comments exist regarding the fate of trifluoroacetic acid, like from Columbia Climate School Center. The source of the currently observed levels is unknown and puzzling according to them. In 2001, the observed TFA concentrations were orders of magnitude larger than those predicted to result from the atmospheric degradation of the replacement of HCFCs and HFCs. The Columbia researchers noted that at the time FK-5-1-12 was not even commercialized.

Another collaborative study was conducted in 2002 and published in Environmental Science and Technology by the Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, the Department of Environmental Chemistry and Eco Toxicity in Germany, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of California San Diego in La Jolla, and NOAA. The purpose of that study was to estimate TFA in ocean waters, given the material is strongly hydrophilic, and to assess whether today's levels are mainly from anthropogenic origin or whether biological or geological sources must be considered. Their conclusion at that time was that TFA is present in the global environment in two major compartments, in the ocean water and in the atmosphere, and in other areas, precipitation and fresh waters and so forth.

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Differentiating PFAS Series: Is the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Going to Ban FK-5-1-12 in the Future?

 

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently accepting comments in the REACH restriction process regarding future use of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including those used in fire protection like FK-5-1-12. This is a three-phase process according to ECHA. Phase 1 is preparation and submission of a restriction proposal, beginning with notification of intent to submit a restriction, then the registry of intentions, preparing the restriction dossier, and then submission and conformity check. Phase 2-A, a consultations phase, includes a consultation on the restriction report and a consultation on the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) draft opinion. Phase 2-B is an opinion development phase that includes advice from the forum, RACs opinion and SEACs opinion. Finally, Phase 3 is the decision and follow-up phase including commission decision on the restriction, complying with the restriction, and enforcing the restriction. Regarding FK-5-1-12 as well as other halocarbon clean agents, ECHA is currently in the second phase which, again in itself has two phases; consultations and opinion development. So, once completed, with comments taken until 25 September 2023, there will be a decision and follow up on what the regulation is going to be in Europe.

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Differentiating PFAS Series: Can FK-5-1-12 Break Down into Harmful Levels of CO2?


 

The atmospheric degradation mechanism of FK-5-1-12 looks like this as a balanced equation C2F5(O)CF(CF3)2—-->4CO2+CF3COOH+9HF. Taniguchi concludes the photolysis of the ketone in the air results in a radical, uh, and also carbonyl fluoride will be incorporated in the air cloud and seawater where it'll undergo hydrolysis to, to give the trifluoroacetic acid. Similarly, the carbonyl fluoride will undergo hydrolysis to give CO2 and HF. The CO2, as well as any of these, the other two products that result from reacting with ketone at the concentrations expected in the environment is not considered harmful according to Taniguchi. The concentrations expected from what is going to be emitted into the atmosphere, combined with a short atmospheric lifetime, the global warming potential is negligible.


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Differentiating PFAS Series: What is PFAS?


 

The acronym PFAS is short for per or polyfluoroalkyl substance. Depending on the source, there are up to 15,000 products or materials that meet the definition of PFAS. PFAS includes a broad category of materials that can be solids, liquids or gasses. Some fire protection materials, defined as PFAS, that are components in aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) are considered persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). Because of this, their use in fire protection and other applications is being phased out globally by the U.S. EPA and other regulatory agencies.


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EPA Webinar on New and New Uses of PFAS

On June 29, the EPA announced its framework for addressing new and new uses of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The framework outlines EPA’s planned approach when reviewing new PFAS and new uses of PFAS to ensure that, before these chemicals are allowed to enter into commerce, EPA will undertake an extensive evaluation to ensure they pose no harm to human health and the environment. Read the news release here.

If you want to learn more about the framework, register for EPA’s upcoming webinar on September 6 at 2:00pm ET.

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FSSA Publishes Statement on PFAS Regulation

At the request of FSSA membership, the FSSA PFAS Task Force has published the FSSA Advocacy Statement on Clean Agent Fire Suppressants and PFAS Regulation.

This document supports FSSA’s position that a “total ban” approach to PFAS compounds could impact society’s ability to protect mission critical applications, which keep people safe. Any legislation or regulation that restricts the manufacture, import, distribution, sale, or use of PFAS should exclude Clean Agents when they are used in fire and explosion protection applications. The document outlines the difference between PFAS, clean agents fire suppressants, and clean agents to help clearly define this issue for our members and provide fact-based information and guidance to regulators, AHJs, architects, the consulting design community, and other industry stakeholders. FSSA supports rational science-based efforts to eliminate sources of harm to humans and the environment. Due to the high risk to society in eliminating all PFAS materials due to an unnecessarily broad classification of compounds, we advocate for a scientific approach that distinguishes between Persistent,  Bioaccumulative and Toxic PFAS (PBTs) compounds from those which are not known to be PBT, based upon the best available science.

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An Update from the FSSA PFAS Task Force

FSSA Members:

We hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer! The FSSA PFAS Task Force has been continuing to meet weekly to provide updates, resources, and webinars for you. 

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June 15 is the Next FSSA Webinar

FSSA Webinar: Differentiating PFAS

Thursday, June 15, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Eastern
Presented by: Paul Rivers, FSSA Honorary Member

Per and polyfluoro alkyl compounds (PFAS) in end use are ubiquitous in society today.  PFAS are essential for modern life to which we are accustomed.  From semiconductors, computers, smart phones, pharmaceuticals, to BESS systems, refrigerants, fire protection foams and clean agents, pipe thread tape, dental floss, our car engines, to even the planes in which we fly, it is hard to imagine life without PFAS.

But, like good and bad cholesterol, there are good and bad PFAS.  Unfortunately, ‘good’ PFAS, comprising the vast majority of the estimated 7,500 to 15,000 materials meeting the PFAS definition depending on the reference, are conflated with the minimal number of ‘bad’ PFAS.  Thus, people mistakenly label the good the same as the bad.  Most notably in the fire suppression industry, ‘bad’ PFAS are the PFOS and PFOA contained in aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, heretofore in general use.



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Join the Next FSSA Town Hall Meeting

Join the FSSA PFAS Task Force for a Zoom chat on Tuesday, May 30 at 2:00 pm Eastern. Members of the PFAS task force will be discussing the task force initiatives that have been happening over the past several months. You'll have a chance to ask questions and share comments on what FSSA can do to help you. If you're interested in attending, RSVP today using the link below.

Please note that ALL participants MUST RSVP in order to receive your personalized Zoom credentials. This meeting is for FSSA Members only.

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FSSA Message from the President

Brenton Harris, 2023-2024 FSSA President

FSSA Members:

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