Firefighters, airport workers, military personnel and others who regularly used firefighting foam may be at risk for various types of cancer from exposure to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used to make the aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF). For decades, major chemical manufacturers like 3M, Chemguard, Chemours and DuPont have manufactured, sold and marketed firefighting foam products containing toxic chemicals without adequate warnings about the potential for the chemicals to cause cancer and other health risks. If you have been diagnosed with cancer or another serious health issue from exposure to AFFF containing the toxic chemicals perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) and/or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced firefighting foam cancer lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability lawsuit against the company that manufactured the toxic foam you were exposed to.
Firefighting foam, also known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), has been used at airports, on military bases and by fire departments across the country to extinguish dangerous petroleum and jet fuel fires. AFFF works by forming a blanket over the fire and cutting it off from the oxygen it needs to burn, which makes the foam extremely effective at putting out fires after aircraft crashes and other incidents. The firefighting foam is so effective, in fact, that the U.S. military has used AFFF during fire emergencies, non-critical missions and training exercises for nearly 60 years, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required firefighters at commercial airports to use the foam to combat fires up until 2018. In response to concerns about the risk of cancer from PFAS exposure, the military has announced that it is looking for an AFFF product that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals that can harm human health and damage the environment. Sadly, the possible switch to safer firefighter foam comes too little for the firefighters, military personnel, airport workers and others who were exposed to the carcinogenic chemicals in PFAS-based firefighting foam for decades.
The main problem with the PFAS chemicals used in AFFF is the fact that the chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” are virtually indestructible and can persist in the human body. Any time firefighting foam is used, the chemicals can be easily dispersed through the air and water and accumulate in the body’s blood and tissues. With repeated exposure, the chemicals can build up in the body, possibly increasing the risk of severe illnesses like testicular cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, lymphoma, leukemia and neuroendocrine tumors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified PFOA and PFOS as “emerging contaminants” or “contaminants of emerging concern,” and even though the chemicals are slowly being phased out, they remain in soil, air, food and water supplies. The chemicals are so ubiquitous, in fact, that even if we stopped using them today, they would still pose an ongoing public health problem.
The potential for PFOA and PFOS to cause severe illnesses among those exposed to firefighting foam isn’t the only problem with the chemicals. They have also been found to contaminate the air, soil and groundwater and cause serious environmental problems. In addition to current and former firefighters, airport workers and U.S. military servicemembers, those who live near airports, military bases and other areas where firefighting foam was used may also be at risk for cancer from indirect exposure to PFAS/PFOA/PFOS due to groundwater contamination from AFFF runoff. In fact, the Department of Defense has identified more than 600 military sites and surrounding communities in the U.S. that may be contaminated with the toxic chemicals from firefighter foam, and reports indicate that communities nationwide have found levels of PFAS in their water at levels that are hundreds, or even thousands, of times higher than the EPA’s recommended limit.
A growing number of product liability lawsuits are being filed against the makers of AFFF foam by U.S. states and individual plaintiffs who allege that the chemical manufacturing companies knowingly made and sold toxic firefighting foam in the U.S. for decades. If you or a loved one has developed testicular cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer or another type of cancer after working as a firefighter in the military or at a commercial airport, your cancer may be linked to exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals. Even if you have never been directly exposed to PFAS through the use of firefighting foam, you could still be at risk for cancer and other serious medical conditions from contaminated soil, groundwater or surface water. For more information about the risk of cancer from firefighting foam, or to find out if you are eligible to pursue compensation for your cancer diagnosis through a product liability lawsuit, contact a reputable firefighting foam injury lawyer today.