Inergen’s firefighting capability is that it effectively protects mission-critical applications and valuable, perhaps irreplaceable, assets.
What are PFAS?
PFAS are a group of compounds with several fluorine atoms attached to an alkyl chain. PFAS stands for Perfluoroakyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, the group including such substances as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). These fluorine substances have fire-retardant properties and are water, grease and dirt repellent. In addition to being used in fire-fighting foam, they have been used in, for example, food packaging, paint, wood impregnation, abrasives, adhesives, carpets and cosmetics.
Today, these fluorine substances are found as pollution in our soil and water. They find their way into our food – both in vegetable and animal products – because they possess the unfortunate property of remaining intact in the environment at large and inside the bodies of people and animals. And, since these substances do not degrade easily, they accumulate through the food chain. In humans, deleterious effects may include cancer, hormonal disturbances, increases in the cholesterol level in the blood and damage to the immune system and liver.
Still used despite ban
PFOS and PFOA are still used internationally. Back in 2008, in an effort to reduce exposure to PFAS from imported goods, Canada banned the use, sale and import of products containing PFOS, but allowed the continued use of PFAS in firefighting foam and photo ink. In Denmark, we had to wait as long as 2020 before cardboard, food and baking paper with added fluorines were banned.
However, we may still be exposed to PFOS, PFAS and PFOA through imported goods such as carpets, leather and clothing, textiles, paper, packaging, coatings, rubber and plastic. The Danish Cancer Society believes that the use of all PFAS substances should be banned. Some of the so-called ‘eternal chemicals’ are under considerable suspicion of increasing the risk of cancer in e.g. kidney and testes. More research is needed, however, to determine the cancer risks more closely.
Environmentally friendly alternatives
Fire Eater has focused on the environmental aspect since 1989, bringing to market only clean agent fire extinguishing system. Our own product, Inergen, is based on the atmospheric air we breathe (Nitrogen, Argon and CO 2 ). It will never be banned or phased out because it is 100% environmentally neutral. That’s why we have no doubt whatsoever that Inergen is the future of modern, environmentally neutral fire protection.
Not only that, the mixture of atmospheric air that constitutes Inergen is also the safest solution – approved by professional, medical experts and recognised as a first-class choice for firefighting in all industrial, offshore, marine and military sectors. A further aspect of Inergen’s firefighting capability is that it effectively protects mission-critical applications and valuable, perhaps irreplaceable, assets. Inergen suppresses and extinguishes a fire before it spreads, so subsequent clean-up of water, foam or chemicals is unnecessary and there is considerably less downtime than would result from a water-based solution.
Inergen is in every way a pure, environmental fire extinguishing agent
We note, however, that the term “clean” is used elsewhere for electrically non-conductive agents that leave no visible residue, but which cannot be characterised as clean from an environmental point of view. The point is that even though you cannot observe any residues from the chemical gases, or because they do not affect hardware, there may well be residues that are harmful to the environment.
Chemical gases used in fire suppression are not “clean” to us when they pollute our environment. Halon has long been banned, HFCs are being phased out in several regions, and now FK5-1-12 is also affected as it per definition is a PFAS – ironically all three products have been marketed as “clean agents”. It is, however, a considerable misunderstanding to perceive them as clean, just because you can’t see the environmental impact they leave behind.
Dedicated to an environmentally safe solution
At Fire Eater, we have dedicated ourselves completely to the Inergen fire protection method, resulting in a highly developed system that employs computer software as part of the process to provide individualised solutions. As technology in data centres and server rooms has evolved, so has Fire Eater’s innovative solutions for fire protection in these locations. The sensitivity of modern hard drives, for example, has led to the introduction of nozzle dampers that dampen the sound pressure – and as always, the products from Fire Eater have been certified by a third party.
The Inergen mixture of air is 100% environmentally safe; we simply borrow the air we all breathe and remix it to make Inergen. Firefighting with Inergen is always safe, always reliable and always environmentally friendly.
Even two decades after the phasing out of Halon, the industry continues to struggle with environmental problems created by synthetic firefighting products. Fire Eater is a sustainable and up-to-date value proposition for extinguishing and preserving values. Fire protection with Inergen is a step in the right direction and an example that it is possible to protect what we care about without harming our planet. The chemical industry will without doubt try to develop agent that false outside the presently affected PFAS. But it should be noted that any organic fluorinated compound may pose serious environmental and health risks.
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