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Although firefighting foams have long been used in place of water to extinguish fuel-based flames, it’s only been within the last couple of decades that experts have explored the health risks these foams can pose to those who are regularly exposed to them. And unfortunately, this research has shown a clear connection between the use of and exposure to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and cancer. Below, we discuss the firefighting foam lawsuit and what you should do if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer after exposure to AFFF.
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Firefighting Foam Cancer
AFFF contains toxic chemical compounds called polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which contain fluorine and carbon. These chemicals are heat-resistant and effective at extinguishing fires caused by oil, paint, gasoline, and other petroleum products. But they also don’t degrade over time—which means that once they’re in your body, they bind to proteins and aren’t excreted.
Recently, PFAS and the other chemicals used in AFFF have been associated with many negative health effects.
The link between firefighting foam and illness from prolonged exposure also includes:
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
AFFF has also been associated with blood cancers like leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report in 2016 that warned the public about this clear connection between exposure to firefighting foam and cancer; it was quickly joined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the American Cancer Society, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all of which have issued their own statements warning of PFAS exposure.
The Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
After the connection between PFAS and cancer was made, many of those who developed cancer after long-term occupational exposure to AFFF took legal action against its manufacturers, including major manufacturers 3M and DuPont, arguing that they were aware of the dangers of PFAS yet continued to produce potentially toxic AFFF. Currently, the largest group of affected individuals is former and active military personnel; others at risk include firefighters, airport workers, and chemical industry workers.
There are thousands of individual plaintiffs with pending AFFF lawsuits throughout the U.S., and a number of individual injury lawsuits filed at the federal level have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) lawsuit.
Firefighting Foam Settlement
Large class-action lawsuits like the firefighting foam MDL are far more likely to result in settlement than in a trial. This means that many of those who have AFFF lawsuits pending are probably going to receive a settlement offer within the next few years. Those with a legal claim may receive financial compensation to pay medical bills. The compensation that will be available to each affected individual will depend on the circumstances of their case. Some of the factors the courts will consider when classifying AFFF plaintiffs include:
- How much and how frequently they were exposed to AFFF
- The seriousness of their illness and their long-term prognosis
- How much pain and suffering they’ve experienced
- Whether their condition has caused them to retire due to disability
How The Ferraro Law Firm Can Help
The Ferraro Law Firm has a nationwide reputation for handling lawsuits, from complaint to settlement or trial. The lawyers at The Ferraro Law Firm are here to help you navigate your legal options and to provide those impacted by AFFF exposure the guidance and direction that you need to make sure your case is professionally handled.
To set up your free consultation with The Ferraro Law Firm, please complete our free consultation form and one of our attorneys will quickly be in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions: AFFFs
Is AFFF a carcinogen?
While AFFF itself is not classified as a carcinogen, fire-fighting foam does contain several known carcinogenic compounds, meaning that it has been shown to cause cancer in humans. This is because many AFFF types contain PFOS and PFOA, which are both highly toxic. According to a study performed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Harvard, these chemicals in aqueous film-forming foams have been linked to a wide range of cancers, particularly cancer of the kidneys, bladder, and testicles. AFFF exposure can also result in endocrine disruption and other serious complications.
Is AFFF foam toxic?
Yes, aqueous film-forming foams are considered to be toxic, especially if they contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFA) substances like PFOS and PFOA. Aside from posing a serious cancer risk with long-term exposure, PFA chemicals can accumulate and remain stored inside the body for long periods of time. As toxic buildup increases, you may be in danger of developing thyroid disease and other life-threatening illnesses. In addition to AFFF, PFAs can be found in commercial waxes, paints, and household products.
What chemicals are in AFFF foam?
While stable aqueous foams are effective at stopping fire, it takes many complex chemical interactions to create this type of fire retardant. Most notably, AFFF includes PFAs, but it also includes fluoro- and hydrocarbon surfactants, water, and air. When combined, these chemicals create an expansive foam that cools and suppresses fire at the source.
What is AFFF used for?
Originally developed in the 1980s to fight wildfires, AFFF is now used by most firefighters in the United States to stop the spread and re-ignition of fires. It is also used to contain fire hazards in various industrial settings.