Who is at Risk to Develop Cancer From Fire Fighting Foam?

January 31, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Who is at Risk to Develop Cancer From Fire Fighting Foam?

Fire Fighting Foam Cancer: Who is at Risk?

While fire fighting foam or AFFF is a proven and useful tool for putting out dangerous fires, it has been linked to the development of cancer among many people with chronic exposure to it.

The risk of developing firefighting foam cancers is high among many diverse groups. In fact, firefighting foam cancers do not just affect firefighters. There are many other individuals and residents at risk for developing firefighting foam cancer or AFFF cancers.

Now, many of the people that have developed cancer and other illnesses because of exposure to AFFF have justly taken legal action against the makers and users of this dangerous substance. This basis for this legal action being the negligent implementation of AFFF or the supplying of AFFF without disclosure of the harmful effects that come with exposure to it.

Employers, manufacturers, and the Department of Defense knew of these risks but failed to disclose these risks to workers and others in the community. Many of these individuals developed firefighting foam cancer because of this exposure. If you are in one of the following groups then you may be able to seek compensation for cancer or other AFFF caused illnesses by filing a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit against the negligent companies that manufacture it.

If you are in one of these groups and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to file an AFFF lawsuit to collect compensation for the damages you suffered. An experienced firefighting foam lawsuit attorney can help you through this difficult process and review all of your legal options.

Firefighting Foam Cancer - Risks of AFFF to Firefighters

The most obvious group at risk to develop cancer and other severe health issues because of exposure to AFFF is firefighters. Firefighting foam in its original incarnation was used by firefighters in Russia where it was developed in 1902 to combat the deadly oil fires that water was ill-equipped to extinguish.

Since then, firefighting foam developed into many different versions that utilize different ingredients and manufacturing methods. It was not until the mid-1960s that the United States Navy developed the AFFF fire fighting foam that we still see versions of used today and that causes severe health issues among many firefighters.

Numerous studies, such as those performed by Biomonitoring California and the University of Miami, examined the effects of AFFF on firefighters. These studies determined that firefighters suffer an extremely high presence of dangerous AFFF chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in their bodies and suffer potentially dangerous exposure to these chemicals. Scientists and medical experts consider two specific chemicals known as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) especially harmful. Researchers thoroughly tested these chemicals in the lab and on animals to come to the conclusion that they drastically increase the chance of developing cancer.. They can also cause other health issues like fertility problems and a compromised immune system.

Who is at Risk After Exposure to Toxic AFFF?

Firefighter Cancer Risk

There is no denying that firefighters have a dangerous job. Firefighters perform their jobs with the knowledge of the injury risks they undertake. They then minimize the chance of being injured through proper preparation and training.

However, firefighters all over America used AFFF without any knowledge of its potentially harmful properties for decades. Manufacturers that failed to disclose these risks made it impossible for firefighters to take additional health and safety precautions. This made it impossible to minimize the firefighting foam cancer risk. It is actually possible for AFFF to be used in a way where the danger is minimized, via protective equipment and procedures. Unfortunately, many chemical companies that provide AFFF negligently either concealed its dangerous effects or failed to properly ensure their product was safe.

Firefighters that used AFFF to put out fires have come into regular contact with the substance despite wearing all kinds of protective gear. The substance gets on their equipment which is often handled without protective gear and then absorbed into the body, it is also used in training or when disposing of the substance where firefighters may not be wearing any gear as well. Carcinogenic PFAS chemicals in AFFF are often absorbed through the skin and inhaled leading to a buildup in the body which causes a variety of health problems, including cancers caused by firefighting foam.

One 2015 study found that the concentration of toxic AFFF forever chemicals in the blood of firefighters in Southern California was three times higher than those in the general population.

Airport Worker Cancer Risk and AFFF Exposure

Since AFFF is very effective at putting out fires fueled by jet fuel, airports used the substance in the past, exposing numerous airport workers to it as a result. AFFF is mostly exposed to airport firefighting personnel although there may be other airport personnel positions that may have come into contact with the substance as well when transporting it, disposing of it, or cleaning it, etc.

Military Personnel Cancer Risk

In addition to the civilian firefighters we see around our communities, military personnel also are at a very high risk of being exposed to firefighting foam and therefore developing serious health issues. Those that work as firefighters in the military in every branch are at a very high risk of developing cancer caused by AFFF exposure. The United States Armed Forces used firefighting foam, specifically, AFFF since the 1960s. Much like civilian firefighters, many suffered exposure to the toxic firefighting foam outside of actual firefighting emergencies when training in AFFF use.

Military members, including those in the:

  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Marines Corps
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard

In particular, firefighting foam or AFFF has been used in military operations for decades to put out jet fuel fires and also in training activities. As such, members from all branches of the military may have been exposed to this toxic firefighting foam

The Department of Defense allegedly knew of the dangers posed by this substance as early as the 1970s. Yet, they failed to disclose these risks and even continued to expose countless military personnel members. . Thankfully AFFF is in the process of being phased out of use but the damage has already been done and the effects of AFFF contamination of military base water supplies linger to this day. So far, the Department of Defense has identified 401 military sites that may have their water contaminated with PFAS because of firefighting foam use.

Firefighting Foam and Communities at Risk Due to Contaminated Water Sources

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the revelation that AFFF causes negative health effects is that the dangerous chemicals it contains have found their way into the water supplies of many communities. Like the many military bases that have suffered health issues because of PFAS contaminated water sources, civilian communities suffered exposure to these dangerous chemicals as well j. PFAS are colloquially known as forever chemicals because of their resilience against breaking down. These persistent and potentially dangerous chemicals have a way of running off or leaching into water supplies near to the use of AFFF and contaminating them.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Risk FAQs

Does Fire Fighting Foam Cause Cancer?

Fire fighting foam contains cancer-causing agents that can potentially cause a wide variety of cancers and medical conditions. Individuals, such as firefighters, military personnel, airport workers, and communities near military bases may find themselves at a higher risk of developing firefighting foam related cancers.

Some of these cancers linked to firefighting foam includes:

  • Testicular cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Lymphoma and Leukemia
  • Neuroendocrine cancers

What Does AFFF Foam Stand For?

AFFF stands for firefighting aqueous film-forming foam. It is used in firefighting all over the country. It functions by cooling the fire and coating the fuel that caused the fire. To do this, it creates a film between the fuel and the oxygen in the air.

How Can I File a Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit?

Currently, there are national firefighting foam cancer lawsuits pending in multidistrict litigation. If you believe that your exposure to firefighting foam caused your cancer, we want to hear from you. You deserve to have an experienced team of lawyers on your side fighting for you and your rights. We will listen to your story and help you learn about your legal options. If you can file a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit, we can begin the process and represent you at every turn. Our firefighting foam cancer attorneys fight for those at risk and we work hard to protect their rights to compensation.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Fire Fighting Foam Lawsuit Attorneys

Firefighting Foam Cancer Attorney, Matt Dolman
Personal Injury Attorney, Matt Dolman

We rely on the producers of various chemical products to provide us with the proper safety information necessary to ensure that those using their product do so aware of any potential risks to their health. If you have developed cancer or another severe illness because of a company's product that contained dangerous ingredients you were unaware of, you may be able to seek compensation for damages you suffered by filing a product liability lawsuit.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has been assisting those that have suffered at the hands of negligent companies for years by representing injured plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits. Even though we have offices in Florida, we help firefighting foam survivors nationwide. Do not hesitate to contact our Clearwater office about your case. We offer free consultations to those that have found themselves in this terrible situation. Our attorneys can assist you in building your case, calculating the damages you've suffered, negotiating settlements, and representing you at trial if need be.

The lawyers of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA will walk you through every step of the process and maintain close communication with you in regard to your case's progress. We provide the resources and experience of a larger law firm while also giving each case the personal touch and investment one would expect from a smaller firm. Call us for a free consultation today at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More