PFAS / PFC decontamination of a fire extinguishing center / sprinkler center

PFAS / PFC decontamination of a fire extinguishing center / sprinkler center

Sprinkler control centers store foam concentrate for the extinguishing systems in large tank systems. Our field of activity generally relates to this part of the system.

What was our mission?

The complete decontamination of a foam agent tank, including pipelines, fittings, floor and tank surfaces in the fire extinguishing center from harmful PFC / PFAS compounds. The legal limit for PFOA, for example, is 25µg/kg. Old foam concentrates usually have a value of 500µg/kg and more. The system decontamination therefore takes place in the µg range, which certainly shows anyone with some understanding of size that orders of magnitude are being processed here that cannot be easily detected by partial analysis.

What are PFC/PFAS compounds and why are they so dangerous?

A perfluorinated compound or perfluorine compound is an organofluorine compound that contains only carbon-fluorine and C-C bonds. It does not occur in nature and is produced artificially. As a result, the foam improves the properties of the extinguishing water. It is therefore possible to mix large volumes of extinguishing water with air and thus significantly increase its effectiveness in the event of a fire.

Extinguishing foams containing these chemical compounds are used by the fire department, particularly for class B fires (fighting fires involving liquids and melting solids). The benefits of using these extinguishing foams are undisputed, but there are risks to people and the environment with long-term adverse health effects. This article is important in this context:

Fig. 1 – Access technician inside the tank to inspect the weld seams

The PFC/PFAS compounds enter the environment with the extinguishing water and thus pollute the groundwater. The perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals are persistent and only degrade completely in nature over long periods of time. The compounds, which are classified as carcinogenic, are also very dangerous for the human organism. The following article explains the problems associated with these fire-fighting foams:

https://www.schuettgut-portal.com/fachbeitrag/30512/pfc-problematik-in-feuerloeschschaeumen.html

How was the order carried out by our employees?

Under the direction of the expert and surveyor Matthias Natusch, the work was carried out by our specialists in protective clothing. Our work only begins once the tank has been visually and chemically cleaned by us. In the first analysis, the remaining PFC / PFAS values are determined. The analysis tool can easily detect values of +200µg/kg in the quick analysis. However, the legal limits are < 25 µg/kg PFOA / PFAS.

This is why we only detect and quantify smaller quantities in the laboratory. In this context, we do not speak of cleaning the system, but of decontamination or laboratory-grade cleaning. The internal decontamination guidelines were strictly observed and adhered to during the execution of the order.

Fig. 2 – before decontamination

Fig. 3 – after decontamination

What was relevant in terms of safety during the work?

The occupational health and safety of our employees is our top priority on every assignment. The well-being of the emergency services is very important to us. We voluntarily go our own way in this respect. The specialists deployed regularly undergo a PFC blood analysis as part of a medical examination. The employers’ liability insurance association has not prescribed this measure. However, we consider the medical examination to be necessary in order to rule out any health risk during these high-risk operations.

What services can we offer our customers?

We are specialists in PFC plant decontamination and have been operating successfully throughout Germany for more than 8 years. In consultation with various branch offices, we carry out extensive consultations with plant operators. We carry out decontamination and laboratory cleaning of tank systems according to the best professional expertise.

For a comprehensive price and service calculation, all we need from our customers are pictures of the system and the latest PFC laboratory analysis. Once we have this data, our customers receive a meaningful quotation within a very short time.

Fig. 4 – Area labeling

Our customers particularly appreciate the speed of the process and the precise results that are delivered. After completion, our customers receive a comprehensive laboratory analysis and the decontamination report, which is easily accepted by the Federal Environment Agency. In the meantime, our reports are even used by various state offices as a basic determination.

Supplement:

According to the laboratory analysis (we received the report 4 days later), we were below the 1 µg/kg limit for PFOA and PFAS – C14 in this application

We have no experience with PFC-contaminated waters and recommend contacting other specialized companies in these cases.

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