Prenatal Exposure to PFAS Chemicals in Firefighter Foam Linked to Increased Risk of Liver Injury in Newborns

The findings of a new study suggest that babies born to mothers who are exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, which are commonly found in firefighter foam, certain foods and widely used commercial household products, may have a significantly increased risk of suffering liver injury side effects in childhood. If you have been exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals directly, through the use of firefighting foam, or indirectly, from drinking water contaminated by PFAS from firefighter foam runoff, don’t wait to seek legal help from a firefighter foam injury lawyer. With a qualified product liability attorney on your side, you may be able to recover compensation from potentially negligent companies like 3M Company and DuPont.

What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The chemicals have been used in the United States since the 1940s and can be found in nonstick cooking pans, waterproof jackets, pizza boxes, stain repellants and countless other products. The toxic chemicals are also found in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), better known as firefighter foam, which has been used for decades in the U.S. by firefighters stationed at military bases and airports. Firefighter foam is used for rapid fire suppression, and while it has proven to be effective in extinguishing fires that involve petroleum or other flammable liquids, evidence suggests that military and civilian firefighters who used firefighting foam may be at risk for serious adverse health effects due to exposure to PFAS chemicals. There are also growing concerns about the risk of people who live near military bases and commercial airports where firefighter foam was routinely used for fighting fires and training purposes being exposed to drinking water that is contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, which have been linked to harmful reproductive and developmental effects.

Risk of Serious Side Effects from PFAS Exposure

The problem with PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS chemicals is that they don’t break down and can remain in the human body for long periods of time, whether exposure occurs in an occupational setting, through the air, or through contaminated food, drinking water or commercial household products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to PFAS chemicals can lead to a number of potential adverse human health effects, possibly including cancer, thyroid hormone disruption, low infant birth weight, increased cholesterol levels and effects on the immune system. In this latest study, published in the journal Hepatology on August 1, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California found that prenatal exposure to PFAS chemicals is associated with increased susceptibility to liver injury in children.

Previous research has shown that exposure to PFAS can have “hepatotoxic effects” in animal models, but studies in humans is limited. In order to study the potential hepatoxic effects of exposure to PFAS in humans, the researchers examined data from 1,105 mothers and children from the European Human Early-Life Exposome (HELIX) cohort, which consisted of six population-based cohorts in France, Spain, Norway, Greece, Lithuania and the UK. The researchers measured concentrations of PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS in the mothers’ blood and assessed concentrations of the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma‐glutamyltransferase in child serum, and found that higher exposure to PFAS during pregnancy was tied to higher liver enzyme levels in children. Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that “Developmental exposure to PFAS can contribute to pediatric liver injury.”

Pursue Compensation for Adverse Health Effects from AFFF Exposure

Chemical manufacturers like 3M Company, DuPont and Chemours Company face a growing number of PFAS firefighter foam lawsuits filed in courts nationwide by military and civilian firefighters exposed to AFFF on the job and by others exposed to drinking water contaminated with PFAS from AFFF runoff. If you believe you have been adversely affected by exposure to PFAS through direct contact with firefighter foam during military service or as a civilian firefighter, or if your loved ones have been harmed by exposure to PFAS in contaminated drinking water, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced firefighter foam injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.