What is Aqueous Film Forming Foam?
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) is a toxic firefighting foam that has been used for decades in the United States to extinguish flammable liquid fires. AFFF is commonly used in firefighting training exercises, in ships and on military facilities.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic chemicals in some AFFF firefighting foam solutions may increase the risk of potential health risks and adverse health effects including prostate cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, and thyroid disease.
Related Article: Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) Lawsuit
What are Forever Chemicals?
AFFF firefighting foam contains water and other "forever chemicals," including ethylene and propylene glycol, which extend the life of the foam. Firefighting foam creates a concentrate mixed with water, which is available in 3% and 6% formulas, depending on how much water is in the mix.
Firefighters use AFFF firefighting foam to extinguish fires that are difficult to fight with water alone, especially those that involve flammable liquids, like jet fuel fires.
In order to make the mixture foamy and create a film that helps extinguish fires, AFFF contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals. AFFF manufacturers have used PFAS in consumer and industrial products since the 1950s.
PFOS and PFOA
Two of the most common types of PFAS found in AFFF firefighting foam are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and/or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These chemicals are human-made compounds that don’t occur naturally in the environment.
Firefighters spray AFFF firefighting foam onto a fire, and it works by coating the fuel behind the fire and by cooling the fire. It also covers the fuel in a film that prevents oxygen from reaching the fuel. This stops the fire from reigniting.
What's the Problem With AFFF Firefighting Foam?
Lawsuits allege that the product contains toxic chemicals known as “forever chemicals,” which do not break down quickly and stay around for years or even decades in the environment. Occupational exposure to PFAS-based firefighting foam has been linked to numerous chronic and disabling medical conditions, especially cancer.
Firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers exposed to AFFF are at high risk for developing firefighting foam cancers and other related illnesses of the immune system due to their exposure to these forever chemicals. AFFF firefighting foam first gained notoriety due to its effectiveness in combating fires caused by combustible liquids.
AFFF Firefighting Foam Injuries
Our lawyers are reviewing potential Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits for people who developed the following injuries following AFFF exposure or exposure to firefighting foam:
- Liver Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Thyroid Disease
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Ulcerative Colitis
Who is Most Likely to be Exposed to Firefighting Foam?
The majority of those exposed to firefighting foam are either military firefighters or members of the armed forces, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, at risk of PFAS exposure or AFFF foam forever chemicals is anyone working at an AFFF manufacturing plant or storage facility or even living nearby.
How Does PFAS Exposure Occur?
Many people think exposure to AFFF foam could not pose a danger to them, but this may not be true. When fighting a fire, polyfluoroalkyl substances spread through the air and later leach into the soil and groundwater.
Related Article: PFAS Lawsuit
If AFFFs get into a drainage system, the dangerous chemicals are dispersed far from the scene of the blaze. Anyone inhaling PFAS-based firefighting foam fumes or drinking water contaminated with AFFF foam is vulnerable to occupation exposure to developing cancer and other problems with human health.
Study Links PFAS Exposure to Liver Cancer
Exposure to PFAS chemicals that have caused widespread water contamination may increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may lead to the development of liver cancer, according to an October 2022 study published in the medical journal JHEP Reports .
For the study, researchers looked at data from the Multi-ethnic Cohort Study database, which included 50 participants who had been diagnosed with liver cancer and 50 who hadn't. The study's authors analyzed blood and tissue samples from the participants to determine levels of PFAS and PFOS before they developed liver cancer.
Participants in the top 10% of prolonged exposure / occupational exposure to PFAS were 4.5 times more likely to develop liver cancer compared to those with the lowest levels of PFOS in their blood.
“This proof-of-concept analysis shows that exposure to high PFOS levels was associated with increased risk of non-viral (hepatocellular carcinoma), and the likely mechanisms were via alterations in glucose, amino acid, and bile acid metabolism,” the researchers concluded.
Are Firefighter Foam Lawsuits Being Filed?
A growing number of municipalities and counties have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of AFFF firefighting foams on behalf of those exposed to AFFF firefighter foam as a result of PFAS contamination of land or bodies of water.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for AFFF manufacturers to claim they had no idea just how harmful exposure to AFFF could be to both humans and the environment.
There is an abundance of data illustrating the overall harm of AFFF exposure to military firefighters, as these were some of the earliest studies linking exposure to AFFF to an increased risk for cancer diagnosis.
All federal firefighting foam lawsuits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before Judge Richard M. Gergel in South Carolina. AFFF litigation MDLs are intended to centralize all federal lawsuits filed in different circuits throughout the country and bring them before a single judge to increase efficient discovery and expedite the trial proceedings for those seeking financial compensation.
What's the Difference Between an MDL and Class Action?
While some may refer to the proceedings as an AFFF class action lawsuit, it is actually an MDL. In a class action lawsuit, all victims of AFFF exposure allege the same or very similar injury. Lawsuits involve a wide array of different cancers and medical issues.
Potential Defendants in Lawsuits
Defendants in lawsuit may include:
- 3M Company
- Tyco Fire Products
- Buckeye Fire Equipment Company
- E.I. DuPont Nemours
- The Chemours Company
- Dynax Corporation
- Military fire departments
- Government contractor defense
- Environmental research companies
Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in lawsuits. We are handling current AFFF lawsuits nationwide and currently accepting new cancer claims regarding AFFF chemicals and other dangerous chemicals in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one developed cancer after exposure to PFAS firefighting foam, you should contact our Law Firm immediately for a free lawsuit evaluation. You may be entitled to an AFFF settlement for medical expenses by filing a firefighter foam lawsuit and our lawyers can help.