If you think you might have been exposed to AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) years ago, you can watch for a few signs that will let you know whether this exposure was significant enough to warrant further medical attention.
According to the American Cancer Society, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can be found in AFFF, have been linked to a potential increased risk of:
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Additionally, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) says PFAS exposure may also lead to other health problems, such as:
- High cholesterol
- Liver problems
- High blood pressure
- Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
If you are a current or former firefighter or military member and have been diagnosed with one of these cancers or conditions, you may have been exposed to AFFF years ago.
What Is AFFF?
AFFF is a synthetic foam firefighters use to extinguish fires. It is also known as “Class B” foam that effectively puts out fuel-based fires. When firefighters use AFFF, it cools down the fire's fuel source and prevents oxygen from coming in contact with the fuel and re-igniting the flames.
Why Is AFFF Dangerous?
While it is effective at putting out fires, AFFF is toxic. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (FEMA), AFFF can be dangerous if inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested orally. It does not break down, so if someone is frequently exposed to AFFF, the substance can build up in their system and have negative health effects over time.
Who Is at Risk of AFFF Exposure?
Because AFFF is a foam used to extinguish fires, most of those affected are likely current or former firefighters. However, people who work in other industries, such as medicine, construction, or the military, may also be affected.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense has used AFFF to fight fuel-based fires since the 1970s, so the potential exposure to military members goes back several decades.
What to Do If You Think You Were Exposed to AFFF
The health risks associated with exposure to AFFF are still being studied, but if you think you may have been exposed and are experiencing health problems, visit your doctor immediately to get started on your diagnosis and treatment. You may also want to:
- Gather as much information as you can about where and when you may have been exposed to AFFF.
- Find out the name of the manufacturer of the foam if possible
- Contact the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to request a health evaluation.
NIOSH has a Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, which investigates potential health risks for firefighters and other emergency responders. They may be able to tell you if you were exposed to AFFF and whether or not you are at risk for any health problems.
If you are concerned about your health, talk to your doctor about any potential risks. They can help you get the information you need.
Tips for Firefighters Who Work With AFFF
If you are a firefighter or military worker who is regularly exposed to AFFF, there are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Always follow your department's safety protocols.
- Wear appropriate protective gear. Remove and bag your PPE before leaving the scene of a fire.
- Thoroughly clean your face, neck, and hands immediately after being exposed. Take a full shower within one hour whenever possible.
If you're ever affected by AFFF contamination, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are resources available to help you deal with the aftermath of AFFF exposure.
Stuck Paying Medical Bills from an AFFF-Related Illness?
After AFFF exposure, medical conditions can be a serious problem—and so are the medical expenses. But you shouldn't have to foot the bill, especially since AFFF exposure was part of your everyday job. When you file a claim, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lab tests, and even pain and suffering from the trauma of your illness.
Call Dolman Law Group Today
Here are some of the benefits of filing a claim with Dolman Law Group:
- We can help investigate when and where you were exposed to AFFF.
- Our team can calculate the damages owed to you.
- Your attorney can complete paperwork, file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, and handle communication.
- We'll negotiate for a settlement or represent your case in court.
We can help you if you think you were exposed to AFFF, whether recently or years ago. At Dolman Law Group, we have a team of personal injury lawyers who help people get legal help and seek compensation. Contact us today to get a free consultation.