Research has suggested that a group of manmade chemicals commonly used in firefighter foams, household and consumer products like nonstick cookware (Teflon), food packaging and waterproof clothing, and even drinking water, may increase the risk of cancer and other serious adverse health effects in people exposed to the chemicals. Known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), these chemicals are persistent in the environment and the human body and can “bioaccumulate,” or build up in the body over time with repeated exposure, thereby posing a significant health risk for anyone who encounters PFAS. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with bladder cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, or another type of cancer, and you believe PFAS exposure in firefighter foam or contaminated drinking water to be the cause, do not hesitate to seek legal help from a knowledgeable PFAS cancer attorney.
Most people have never heard of them before, but per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been manufactured and used in a wide range of industries in the United States and other parts of the world for decades.
PFAS are commonly used in consumer goods that people use daily, like clothing, carpeting, cleaning supplies, paper, and packaging, to make them resistant to water, grease, and stains. The chemicals are also used in firefighting foams routinely used by military and civilian firefighters to suppress flammable liquid fires on military bases and at commercial airports. These PFAS-containing foam products are known as aqueous film forming foams, or AFFF, because of the way they behave when used for firefighting purposes. When sprayed on flammable and combustible liquids, AFFF forms a thin film that blankets the fuel surface, smothering the fire and separating the fuel from the oxygen supply, thereby suppressing the fire and helping to prevent reignition.
Due to growing concerns about the potential toxic nature of PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are no longer manufactured in the U.S. However, the toxic chemicals are still imported into the U.S. and used in a number of consumer products, despite evidence that they can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. Recently, there have been reports of widespread contamination of drinking water sources near military bases, oil refineries, airports, wastewater treatment plants, firefighter training facilities, PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, and other sites nationwide where PFAS were used or manufactured. Residents of communities where PFAS have been released into the air, soil and water and found their way into the drinking water supply now face a possible risk of cancer due to localized contamination.
According to the latest report of PFAS contamination in the U.S. from the Environmental Working Group, “test of tap water, military bases and industrial sites have found PFAS contamination in more than 712 locations in 49 states.” The environmental group warns that “Drinking water for up to 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS.” Unfortunately, because PFAS are water soluble, the EPA cautions that traditional treatment methods cannot effectively remove the chemicals from drinking water.
It is the very qualities that make PFAS useful that allow the chemicals to persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of humans and animals. The most extensively studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS, both of which are used in AFFF and have also been discovered in drinking water supplies in nearly every state across the country. The EPA warns on its website that exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may lead to serious adverse outcomes, including the following:
The companies that make PFAS and those that use PFAS to manufacture other products have been thrust into spotlight over the past several years, as product liability claims alleging side effects from PFAS exposure have continued to pour in. The majority of these lawsuits have been filed by military and civilian firefighters who were regularly exposed to PFAS in firefighter foam products and were subsequently diagnosed with cancer. However, a growing number of claims are expected to be brought by residents of communities that have been adversely affected by PFAS-contaminated drinking water. The plaintiffs in upcoming PFAS exposure claims will seek to hold the companies that manufacture and use PFAS legally liable for the harm they and their loved ones have suffered. For more information about pursuing a legal claim for alleged side effects of PFAS exposure via AFFF or contaminated drinking water, consult a reputable PFAS injury lawyer today.
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