“Forever Chemicals” in Firefighter Foam Can Suppress Immune System Response, Study Warns

Experts are increasingly concerned about the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on human health and the environment, and a new study reports that exposure to PFAS, commonly found in firefighter foam, nonstick cookware coatings, food wrappers, and other consumer and industrial products, can suppress the “neutrophil respiratory burst,” a key component of the body’s immune system response. Without this innate immune process, the immune system is weaker and the body is more susceptible to infection, which can lead to adverse health outcomes, the researchers warn. If you or someone you know was exposed to PFAS chemicals in firefighter foam or from another potential source of exposure and has experienced cancer or any other serious adverse health effect, contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out how we can help.

How Can PFAS Harm Human Health?

PFAS are a ubiquitous group of manmade chemical compounds touted for their ability to resist heat, water, and grease. PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down over time and can therefore accumulate in the air, soil, and water, and in the human body as well. As such, serious concerns have been raised in recent years about the potential adverse effect of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and other PFAS chemicals on the environment and human health, and a growing number of affected individuals are now pursuing legal claims for cancer and other health effects allegedly associated with PFAS chemicals, especially those found in firefighter foam products and in the drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. 

PFAS Can Inhibit Key Immune Process

These growing concerns about PFAS are supported by new research published online this month in the Journal of Immunotoxicology, which found that exposure to PFAS can suppress human immune function. Researchers examined the impact of nine environmentally-relevant PFAS, such as PFOA, perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), and ammonium perfluoro (2-methyl-3-oxahexanoate) (GenX), on one component of the body’s innate immune response, known as the neutrophil respiratory burst. “The respiratory burst is a key innate immune process by which microbicidal reactive oxygen species (ROS) are rapidly induced by neutrophils in response to pathogens; defects in the respiratory burst can increase susceptibility to infection,” the researchers write. To study the impact of PFAS on the innate immune response, the researchers utilized larval zebrafish, a human neutrophil-like cell line, and primary human neutrophils. “It was observed that exposure to PFHxA and GenX suppresses the respiratory burst in zebrafish larvae and a human neutrophil-like cell line. GenX also suppressed the respiratory burst in primary human neutrophils.”

Health Problems Linked to PFAS Exposure

In addition to scientific studies linking PFAS chemicals to an increased risk of adverse health outcomes in humans, the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) warns that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to the following health effects:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Decreased infant birth weight
  • High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
  • Decreased vaccine response in children
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Changes in liver enzymes

Additionally, “CDC/ATSDR recognizes that exposure to high levels of PFAS may impact the immune system,” the agency notes on its website. “A National Toxicology Program review found that exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is an immune hazard to humans based on a high level of evidence that PFOA and PFOS suppressed the antibody response from animals and a moderate level of evidence from studies in humans.”

Find Out if You Qualify for Financial Compensation

Scientific findings indicating that PFAS chemicals may suppress human immune function provide a compelling argument in support of allegations that firefighter foam and other PFAS-containing products can cause bladder cancer, testicular cancer, and other serious diseases. If you have been diagnosed with cancer or another illness that you believe was caused by exposure to “forever chemicals,” do not hesitate to discuss your rights with an experienced attorney. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the company or entity at fault for your PFAS exposure, which can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today to find out if you may be eligible to file a claim.

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