Firefighting is a hazardous profession but on top of the usual risks, firefighters frequently have to use Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) when extinguishing fires. The chemicals that these foams contain pose a direct risk to firefighters and, indirectly, to the general public as well. Let's look at the dangers and what you can do if you have come into contact with these chemicals and are suffering the consequences.
Why do Firefighters Use AFFF?
These smooth-flowing, synthetic foams have proven to be very effective in suppressing fires involving hydrocarbon-based liquids such as jet fuel, gasoline, crude oil, diesel fuel, and the like. They spread well over the burning surface and have three important properties:
- The blanket of foam blocks oxygen from feeding the fire
- Liquid drains down from the foam layer forming a film that suppresses fuel vapor and seals off the surface of the fuel
- The water in the foam cools the fuel and acts as an extra fire suppressant
Negative Effects of AFFF
AFFF has an adverse environmental impact if it reaches water sources. These chemicals are not only persistent and spread easily; they also cannot be removed by conventional wastewater treatment techniques. Since these chemicals are not biodegradable, if they leak into the groundwater or contaminate the soil, it could take decades to completely clean up these toxic sites.
Firefighters at Risk
AFFF manufacturers recognize that the use of these dangerous chemicals requires adequate safety equipment at all time when being used. Anyone who comes into contact with AFFF is potentially at risk. Since firefighters come into contact with these toxic chemicals regularly while doing their job, they need to be especially vigilant in protecting themselves. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential for firefighters to prevent them from inhaling hazardous fumes, toxins, and debris that could harm their lungs and respiratory system.
Contamination Problems in Your Community
It is not only firefighters who are at risk, AFFF can spread easily into the groundwater which then contaminates drinking water, rivers, and streams. This exposes the general public to the risks associated with the chemical components of AFFF as well.
AFFF contains Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which are chemicals that cannot be broken down and can last a long time in the body. They will continue to accumulate as a person is exposed to more PFAS and, as PFAS are carcinogenic, the risk of contracting cancer, and other illnesses, increases as time passes. The list of potential cancers that a person might develop includes:
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Liver cancer
Determining Liability After AFFF Exposure
Despite research that has shown a direct link between the use of firefighting foam and cancer, manufacturers have been reluctant to disclose full information and issue warnings about the use of their products. This lack of transparency potentially makes them liable since people have used their product without all the information needed to protect themselves. Firefighters, as well as members of the general public who have ingested PFAS through the water supply, may be able to claim compensation.
Get Legal Representation Now
We believe that manufacturers of firefighting foams have not been as open as they should have been when it came to the hazards associated with their product. AFFF chemicals pose a grave risk to your health. If you have been affected, you should lose no time in fighting for compensation. If you have contracted cancer and believe that this was because of exposure to PFAS, you might want to talk to a lawyer. We at the Dolman Law Group will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.
What does a Claim for Compensation Include?
Dealing with any serious illness is expensive, painful, time-consuming, and affects you and your family's well-being. Your claim for compensation should include:
- Covering the cost of all related medical expenses (be sure to keep a record of all your expenses)
- Lost present and future earnings
- Pain and suffering (including mental anguish)
Can I Represent Myself?
The short answer to this question is yes. However, you should think carefully before you make a decision since fighting a lawsuit can require a lot of time, energy, effort and knowing your way around the legal system. Hiring a personal injury attorney to guide you on how best to proceed to get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, will allow you to take care of yourself and focus on your illness or injury.
To pursue a personal injury claim after AFFF exposure, do not hesitate to reach out and schedule a free consultation today with the Dolman Law Group to discuss your case. This consultation doesn't place you under any obligation - it is an opportunity for us to assess your case and for you to ask any questions that you might have.