Exposure to Firefighter Foam – AFFF – May Result in Cancer
Aqueous film-forming foam, also called AFFF or “firefighter” foam, has been used to fight fuel-based fires since the 1950s. Firefighters who’ve developed cancer after toxic exposure to AFFF have the right to recover compensation with help from a national personal injury lawyer.
What is aqueous film-forming foam? Which firefighters are at risk? Are other people at risk as well? What are your legal rights if you developed cancer after exposure to AFFF, and what steps should you take? When should you reach out to contact a national personal injury attorney?
If you will continue reading this brief discussion of AFFF and the rights of those who have been injured or harmed by it, you will find the answers you may need.
What is AFFF and What Makes It Dangerous?
AFFF has been used by firefighters since the 1970s. It is a fire suppressant that extinguishes flammable liquid fires. AFFF has frequently been used by firefighters at airports, military bases, shipping facilities, and in training exercises for extinguishing petroleum and jet fuel fires.
The cancer-causing chemicals in AFFF are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), human-made chemicals that have been used in a number of consumer items since the 1950s. PFAs were first manufactured for the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb in the 1940s.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a toxic PFA that is created as a side product in the aqueous film-forming foam manufacturing process, and some AFFF formulations use other PFAs that pose similar environmental and personal health risks.
What Can Happen When Someone is Exposed to PFAs?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances are not biodegradable, so they stay in the human body long after they have been ingested or inhaled. Cancer researchers have linked exposure to PFAs with:
- bladder cancer
- kidney cancer
- liver cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- prostate cancer
- testicular cancer
- thyroid cancer
- thyroid disease
- ulcerative colitis
There is also evidence that per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances may be linked to colorectal, breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Firefighters are nine percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and fourteen percent more likely to die from cancer than the general population in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.
Who is Most at Risk?
Firefighters who were in the U.S. Air Force or Navy, and those who’ve fought fires at ports and airports, are at the highest risk for exposure to PFOA and other PFAs. If you were a firefighter from the early 1960s through the early 2000s, you may have been exposed to PFAs.
You may also have been exposed to PFAs if you worked for a company that manufactured AFFF (such as Minnesota’s 3M Company) or other items that include PFAs, or if you lived near a military base or a manufacturing facility where PFAs were manufactured and/or used.
In 2000, the 3M Company announced that it would phase out the production of products using PFOA and other PFAs, but serious problems remain, as explained below.
Can PFAs Persist in Ground and Water?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances have also contaminated the communities near particular military bases and manufacturing facilities. Since 2020, for example, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has found PFAs in 93 local water systems throughout the state.
And in 2022, an Alabama utility, the Utilities Board of Tuskegee, filed a proposed federal class action suit which claims that the 3M and DuPont companies have contaminated drinking water throughout the state with PFAs.
Have You Been Exposed?
If you have been exposed to PFAs (in the fire suppressant AFFF or for some other reason) and you have subsequently been diagnosed with cancer, you may have the opportunity to hold the manufacturer legally liable and to recover compensation for your medical bills and related losses.
Wherever you may be in the United States, a national personal injury lawyer can help you trace your PFA exposure and hold the negligent parties accountable. You may receive a settlement or a jury verdict that compensates you for your cancer treatments, lost wages, and related expenses.
Veterans who developed cancer after PFA exposure may also be eligible for compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and depending on the state where you live, if you worked manufacturing AFFF, even decades ago, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
What Steps Should You Take?
If you believe that you qualify for compensation after exposure to PFAs and a cancer diagnosis, a national personal injury attorney can explain and protect your rights and help you determine the best way to proceed in order to recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
In all fifty states, if you are injured because another party was negligent – an individual, a private business, or a government or government agency – you have the right to file a personal injury claim with an attorney’s help and to recover monetary compensation for your:
- current and projected future medical expenses
- lost wages and projected future lost wages
- personal pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- related losses and damages
How Many People Were Exposed?
If you worked with aqueous film-forming foam between the 1960s and the early 2000s, see your personal physician immediately for a cancer check-up. There is no way to know how many people may have been exposed to PFAs in those years.
If you receive a cancer diagnosis after working with AFFF or being exposed to PFAs, you will need to compile the pertinent medical and military or employment records in order to take legal action. Your attorney can tell you exactly what will be required in your own case.
What Else Should You Know About AFFF and Cancer?
The 3M Company, DuPont, and other chemical companies that used or produced products with PFAs currently face a number of personal injury claims across the United States.
Compensation is your legal right if you have been diagnosed with cancer after exposure to PFAs, but you must take the first step and contact a personal injury lawyer who handles these cases in all parts of the country and has considerable experience handling AFFF- and PFA-related cases.
Make that call today to learn more about your rights or to begin the personal injury process. Your personal injury attorney will answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns.