Is Firefighter Foam Toxic?

March 29, 2022
Is Firefighter Foam Toxic?

Across the country, there are several lawsuits where firefighters (and other affected groups) claim that the foam manufacturers were aware of the health risks associated with the product and did nothing to discontinue their use. Firefighter foam can cause many different ailments, has been linked to cancer, and is considered toxic.

What Is Firefighter Foam?

Firefighter foam has been in use since the 1970s. The foam uses various synthetic chemicals, most notably PFOS and PFOA (short for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid). 

Aqueous film-forming foam (commonly referred to as AFFF or Firefighter foam) contains highly concentrated levels of PFOS and PFOA. They have proven to be highly effective in putting out certain types of fires, such as chemical or fuel fires. Despite the advantages, these chemicals are sometimes referred to as ‘forever chemicals' because they don't naturally break down over time.

What Other Ways Is Firefighter Foam Used?

Despite the many health risks associated with AFFF, it has continued to be used for decades to fight fires. Firefigher foam has been used in a variety of ways in multiple organizations because of its unique properties, such as:

  • Military facilities
  • Oil refineries
  • Aviation operations
  • Naval vessels
  • Highway emergency response
  • Flammable liquid storage and processing facilities

What Health Risks Does Firefighter Foam (AFFF) Pose?

Since the first use of Firefighter foam in the 1970s, various medical studies have examined its impact on human health and environmental risks. There are a startling number of conditions linked to AFFF. These include:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
  • Multiple Myelomas
  • Prostate cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Thyroid effects
  • Changes in cholesterol
  • Low birth weight
  • Accelerated puberty

This isn't even a complete list of the impact on human health. Because of the known associations between AFFF and adverse health conditions, the Department of Defense has required all firefighters in the United States to stop using the dangerous chemicals by the beginning of 2024.

Damages Those Affected By AFFF Can Claim

If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or health condition due to repeated exposure to firefighter foam/AFFF, you may be able to claim damages. This claim may be similar to a personal injury case in some ways, but can contain unique factors. There are two categories of damages you can pursue:

  1. Economic damages - this refers to expenses incurred due to your medical condition, and may include medical bills. Economic damages are relatively easy to understand and calculate.
  2. Non-economic damages - these are more complex and refer to damages that don't have a specific price tag. Pain and suffering are a common non-economic damage claimed in many firefighter foam cases.

If you are considering a claim, you're likely eligible to claim both economic and non-economic damages. A lawyer who is familiar with firefighter foam cases can advise you. 

The damages you can claim include:

  • Mental anguish - Mental and emotional anguish take a significant toll on a person already dealing with severe illness. Damages can be claimed for this pain.
  • Loss of consortium - Diseases can have a large impact on all aspects of a person's life, particularly on relationships with a spouse or children. Loss of consortium is a claim based on these damages.
  • Lost wages - If you've missed work due to illness, this adds even more stress to your family. You can claim damages for lost wages to recoup those expenses.
  • Medical bills - The treatments for any of the above conditions can be costly. If you receive medical treatment, be sure to keep documentation to help prove your case down the line. You may also be able to claim damages for future medical expenses.
  • Pain and suffering - All of the conditions listed above are exceptionally painful. If you became ill due to others' actions (or inactions), this pain could be claimed as damages. While calculating these damages can be complex, you may be entitled to receive damages for your pain and suffering.
  • Loss of future income - A diagnosis of cancer (or another serious condition) can impact a person's potential to make money in the future. If your diagnosis has left you with fewer career options (or less capacity to make money), you can also claim these damages.

What Should I Do If I Was Exposed To Firefighter Foam?

If you were exposed to firefighter foam and have been diagnosed with a related health condition, you may be eligible for compensation. Our lawyers have the resources and knowledge to help you exercise your legal rights. 

Contact the Dolman Law Group today for a free case review.