Firefighters, U.S. military service members, airport workers, and others who have used aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF (firefighting foam), to fight high-hazard flammable liquid fires may be at risk for cancer due to the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in these products. PFAS chemicals like PFOA and PFOS have been studied extensively and research shows that exposure to PFAS in AFFF may put users at risk for kidney cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other potentially life-threatening cancers. If you have reason to believe that your cancer or other serious medical condition was caused by exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam, contact us today to discuss your legal options. You may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries, which an experienced firefighting foam cancer attorney can help you pursue.
Aqueous film-forming foam is a fire-suppressant product commonly used by firefighters, the military, commercial airports, and firefighter training facilities to extinguish flammable liquid fires such as petroleum and jet fuel fires. When sprayed onto a fire, the foam quickly cools the fire and coats the fuel source in a film that separates it from the oxygen supply, thereby preventing the fire from reigniting. Although AFFF is widely considered an effective product for extinguishing high-intensity fires that are difficult to fight with water alone, the very chemicals that make AFFF so effective are known to be highly toxic to human health. The two most extensively studied PFAS chemicals – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) – are also two of the most common types of PFAS found in aqueous film-forming foam solutions.
Firefighting Foam, Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, and Forever Chemicals Have Been Linked to Numerous Types of Cancer, Thyroid Complications, and Other Illnesses
Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS/PFOA/PFOS are man-made chemicals that do not break down over time, which means with prolonged exposure, these toxic chemicals can accumulate in the human body and remain there for long periods of time, leading to negative health effects like cancer. In February 2020, the U.S. Fire Administration, an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), published a report about “the hidden dangers in firefighting foam.” In it, the agency warns that “long-term exposure to PFAS/PFOA/PFOS, in high concentrations, causes a buildup in the body [which] may have negative health effects like a risk of thyroid disease and testicular, kidney and bladder cancers.” PFAS released into the environment as a result of AFFF use can also contaminate the soil and groundwater, posing additional health risks.
Touted for their ability to resist grease, water, and oil, PFAS chemicals have been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. And for decades, PFAS-containing AFFF solutions have been marketed and sold in the U.S. as safe and effective products for fighting flammable liquid fires. In the late 1960s, the Department of Defense (DoD) began requiring all branches of the military to use AFFF to fight high-hazard fires, which has led to military firefighters being disproportionately exposed to hazardous PFAS chemicals. And while the DoD has committed to discontinuing the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam, the products will not be completely phased out of the military until 2024.
In addition to firefighters and others who used AFFF at work and were directly exposed to PFAS in the firefighting foam solutions, people who lived near PFAS manufacturing plants or military bases, airports, and other sites where firefighting foam was used may also be at risk for serious health problems because of exposure to PFAS-contaminated soil and drinking water. According to the Environmental Working Group, at least 2,858 sites in all 50 states and two territories are known to be contaminated with PFAS.
Harmful PFAS/PFOA/PFOS chemicals are so ubiquitous that most people in the U.S. have been exposed to PFAS, particularly PFOA and PFOS, and have the chemicals in their blood. Exposure to PFAS may occur through oral ingestion, absorption through the skin, or inhalation through exposure in the atmosphere, and health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies have acknowledged that certain PFAS have the potential to impair the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Unfortunately, firefighters and military service members were never warned about the potential adverse effects of exposure to PFAS in AFFF, and minimal efforts have been made to keep the chemicals from polluting the environment and putting others at risk for PFAS exposure. If you used or were otherwise exposed to aqueous film-forming foam and have since been diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness, you may have a legal claim against the manufacturers for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today to find out how we can help.
Were you or a loved diagnosed with Cancer, Thyroid Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or another serious illness after exposure to fire fighting foam or forever chemicals like PFOA/PFOS?
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