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Spraying AFFs Directly onto People?

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There's a great deal of material on the internet about the toxicity to the environment of AFFs, but very little (none, that I can find), about the consequences of spraying it directly onto people.

My question is, in a scenario where people are under direct threat of burning, like in an aircraft fire, is it ok to spray them with large quantities of AFF or would that cause them to die of drowning or suffocation...? ... or indeed to die later as a consequence of the exposure to toxic chemicals?  Many thanks for any contributions...


Edited by Martin-123
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Hi Martin, this is very difficult to answer, as there are many different AFFF chemicals in use. Most of them are harmful, often carcinogenic and yes, if you were encased entirely by foam, you would suffocate. There is, of course, a balance to be made between saving lives from fire and not harming people with chemicals. For fires inside of closed spaces there is sometimes a possibility to use de-ionised water mist extinguishers instead of foam. De-ionised water mist extinguishers can be sprayed directly onto people without harming them (just remember that drinking de-ionised water in significant quantity is harmful).


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Of course it's better to be sprayed by AFFF than burn to death!

The concentrated form is a skin irritant and not good to drink, but the diluted form discharged during fire fighting has no immediate risk, you wouldn't be wearing the clothing for ages afterwards and would have a wash anyway. Any possible side effects are outweighed by the benefit.

Most foam is discharged as no or low expansion and if you were to drown/suffocate in it then you would be in conditions where you would still drown if plain water was discharged.

High expansion foam is full of air bubbles and can be walked through, although disorientation is a risk.

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