What is Fire Fighting Foam?
Man-made chemicals known as Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can all be found in a wide range of consumer products. PFAS also include two other compounds, perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) that have been identified in firefighting aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). This specific type of firefighting foam is widely used across the US and has been shown to have links to cancer in those who are exposed to it.
AFFF has been in production since the early 1960s by the US Navy and 3M. The original AFFF is one of two types of synthetic foam that is effective in suppressing high-hazard flammable liquid fires that are classified as Class B fires. By coating the fuel with the firefighting foam, it prevents the fire from getting more oxygen and denies the fire the ability to further combust liquids like jet fuel and gasoline. As effective as AFFF is, there has been an increased amount of scrutiny towards the firefighting foam in recent years as the health risk of these dangerous chemicals have been exposed.
Read on to learn more about AFFF, the chemicals that make it dangerous, and how it causes cancer.
PFOS/PFAS and Firefighting Foam Cancer
Aqueous film forming foam containing PFAS man-made chemicals have been proven to be dangerous for the environment as well to humans. PFAS has been nicknamed “Forever Chemicals” in part for how long the chemicals take to break down in the environment. Even very small dosages of PFAS have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, harm to the human immune system, and other diseases. Once these chemicals have entered the human body it becomes difficult to eliminate them.
Toxic exposures to AFFF has created harm to all kinds of different workers who use the foam and to citizens who live in areas surrounding the areas where it is used. Firefighters have the highest risk of experiencing health issues because of increased exposure to AFFF during both training and while fighting fires in real-world scenarios. Airport workers, military personnel, mill workers, workers who manufacturer the chemicals, and residents that live in the surrounding areas of an airport, military base, or mill production plant are most at risk of the hazards of AFFF.
Health organizations such as the Center for Diseases Control (CDC), and U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) have reported that PFAS may be associated with cancer. A study done by Biomonitoring California was able to show high levels of PFAS (the chemical found in AFFF) in their firefighter test subjects. Another study by UC Berkeley and Harvard University researchers estimated 6 million or more people may have been exposed to PFAS contamination through their drinking water. Arlene Blum, the co-author of the study and visiting scholar in the Department of Chemistry and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute, expressed concerns regarding the contamination of the drinking water. She said, “During firefighting practice drills, large volumes of these toxic chemicals wash into surface and groundwater and can end up in our drinking water.”
“During firefighting practice drills, large volumes of these toxic chemicals wash into surface and groundwater and can end up in our drinking water.”
Firefighting Foam Side Effects and Complications
Firefighting foam has been found to cause many different types of cancer and other medical issues, including:
- Testicular cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Fertility complications
- Breast cancer
- Damaged immune system
- Liver Cancer
If you’re a firefighter, airport worker, military personnel, mill worker–or a resident that lives in the surrounding areas of an airport, military base, or mill production plant–and have experienced medical issues due to AFFF firefighting foam, speak with an experienced AFFF attorney to discuss your rights and options.
Nothing can make up for the pain and suffering due to a company’s negligence, but at Dolman Law Group, we will aggressively fight for justice on behalf of our clients and their loved ones by protecting their rights and seeking the justice they deserve.
Current and Past Actions Being Taken Against AFFF Manufacturers
Many fire departments have stopped using firefighting foam containing PFAS. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the military and manufacturers are well-aware of the dangers of the toxic chemicals used in firefighting foam.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) has identified approximately 401 military sites that the toxic chemicals from the firefighting foam have potentially contaminated. They’ve committed millions of dollars to clean up these areas surrounding bases where firefighting foam was used in training exercises.
- The Navy is currently working on a foam that does not contain PFAS or PFOS and creating a policy to dispose of the AFFF that they currently have in operation.
- In 2018, the FAA Reauthorization Act required all airports to stop using firefighting foam that contains PFAS by October 2021.
- Multi-district litigation with approximately 500 cases named AFFF Product Liability is being consolidated in the District of South Carolina of the U.S. District Court. Judge Richard Gergel is the judge assigned for discovery and pretrial matters as well as any additional tort cases that will be transferred to his court.
- In Ohio, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Columbus awarded a couple compensation after suffering two bouts of testicular cancer from years of drinking water contaminated with PFAS that Dupont Co. dumped into the Ohio River.
- Shareholders have filed class-action lawsuits accusing companies of misleading investors over the extent of PFAS liabilities.
- Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, New Hampshire, Ohio, Washington, New Mexico, and California have all filed lawsuits targeting the companies responsible for contaminating community water systems in their states.
- Dupont and Chemours have filed lawsuits against each other as they argue over liability for PFAS contamination.
Seek an Experienced Clearwater, Florida AFFF Firefighting Foam Attorney
Companies that produced AFFF knew the long-term health risk associated with these toxic chemicals for decades. Companies like 3M, Dupont Co, Chemours Co, Tyco, Chemguard, Kidde-Fenwal, and others are responsible for not warning citizens and workers of the dangers of their chemicals and that their chemical builds up in humans and the environment. Some lawyers have compared this situation to other litigation concerning chemicals like asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint.
If you or a loved one has developed a serious illness or cancer because of a company’s negligence or has been exposed to the toxic chemicals in AFFF fire fighting foam, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the damages you suffered by filing a product liability lawsuit.
Sibley Dolman has extensive experience helping clients who have suffered because of a company’s negligence by vigorously representing injured clients. We will investigate your claim and help you to seek the justice you deserve. The experienced AFFF firefighting foam lawyers at Sibley Dolman prides itself on fighting for victims by holding companies accountable for their negligence while seeking justice and getting them the compensations they deserve.
Sibley Dolman offers a FREE, no-obligation consultation with a No Recovery, No Fee Promise. If you believe you or a loved one has an AFFF firefighting foam cancer case, call us at (727)-451-6900 or fill out our online form.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765