National Institute of Standards and Technology Research Found Multiple PFAS in Firefighting Equipment

Firefighters have had adverse health problems recently because AFFF firefighting foam contains harmful chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can cause cancer and other health problems. A recent study from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) discovered that firefighter turnout gear, the protective gear they wear while on the job, also contains PFAS.

Many firefighters have filed product liability lawsuits to hold manufacturers of AFFF firefighting foam, such as 3M Company, Dupont, and Tyco Fire Products, accountable for their negligence. This recent revelation about PFAS in more fire gear proves that firefighters have been exposed to these dangerous chemicals that can put them at risk of suffering adverse health conditions like kidney cancer, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and pancreatic cancer.

What are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances?

The basis for the recent AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits is the presence of dangerous chemicals that can expose firefighters to significant health problems. Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals used in various consumer products, such as cookware, cosmetics, and fabrics. The prevalent usage of PFAS has to do with their ability to resist water, grease, and oil.

Despite their helpful uses in consumer products, PFAS are dangerous chemicals that can cause significant health problems. They are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they can persist in the environment and people’s bodies for decades. When a person is exposed to PFAS, the chemicals can combine with proteins in the body and cause cancer and other adverse health conditions.

Why are PFAS Used in AFFF Firefighting Foam?

PFAS are used in AFFF firefighting foam because they help to contain fires in tight spaces. When mixed with water, these substances can create a cooling film that can engulf a fire, cut off its oxygen, extinguish it, and prevent the fire from relighting. The substances’ heat-resistant qualities allow them to act as a suppressant in firefighting foam that helps fight fires.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also imposes a standard for testing firefighting gear that requires PFAS. The testing standard established in 1971 requires all firefighting equipment to pass the Ultraviolet Degradation Test. Firefighting foam cannot pass this obscure test without the presence of PFAS.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) filed a lawsuit with the NFPA on March 16th, 2023, for imposing and keeping this dangerous testing standard for firefighting equipment.

What Health Problems Can PFAS in AFFF Cause?

Most people contain trace amounts of PFAS in their bodies, but overwhelming exposure to these dangerous chemicals can cause significant health problems. People can become exposed to PFAS through skin contact and breathing in the substances persisting in the environment.

PFAS exposure has been credibly linked to immune suppression, changes in liver function, and lower birth weight for children. Firefighters and civilians exposed to large quantities of PFAS can experience adverse health conditions like increased cholesterol levels, liver enzyme changes, decreased vaccine response for children, and a high risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

They can also cause multiple forms of cancer, such as:

  • Testicular cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

NIST Research Found PFAS in Firefighter Protective Clothing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study of 20 textiles used in firefighter turnout gear, the protective clothing they wear while fighting fires. Turnout gear contains three layers: the outer shell, the moisture barrier, and the thermal liner. The NIST conducted research on twenty new textile samples from turnout gear.

They found a high concentration of 26 different PFAS in the outer shell and moisture barrier. While the concentration of PFAS differs based on the manufacturer of the clothing, there was enough evidence to suggest PFAS were present in the two outer layers of firefighter turnout gear. Firefighters are exposed to these dangerous chemicals through AFFF firefighting foam and their gear, increasing their risk of cancer, immune suppression, and increased cholesterol levels.

What Legal Action Can Firefighters Take Regarding Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Through Gear?

If you’re a firefighter that suffered an adverse health condition from AFFF firefighting foam or PFAS exposure through gear, you could file a product liability lawsuit to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence. Your health conditions likely caused economic and non-economic damages that caused losses like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

By filing an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit, you could join the AFFF MDL in the District of South Carolina. Thousands of lawsuits are consolidated into the AFFF firefighting foam MDL as firefighters and civilians seek compensation for damages. The first bellwether trials occur in June, which should give insight into how juries respond to evidence and whether a settlement could come for plaintiffs.

Should You Hire a Product Liability Lawyer to Help With Your AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

Hiring a product liability lawyer to have in your corner before filing an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit is a huge advantage. They have vast experience handling these types of claims that can help through the complicated process of joining the MDL and pursuing compensatory damages. A product liability lawyer can help you file the proper paperwork to join the MDL, pool resources with other lawyers, ensure you are represented in future settlement negotiations, and keep you updated on the MDL’s progress.

Contact The Russo Firm for Help With Your AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

The AFFF firefighting foam lawyers at The Russo Firm can help you with your lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages related to your medical condition suffered through PFAS exposure. We understand how an adverse health condition caused by PFAS can affect your financial situation, psychological well-being, and quality of life.

Our product liability lawyers wish to offer you personalized legal attention to help you through the process of filing your AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit and joining the MDL. Contact The Russo Firm for a free AFFF consultation at (561) 270-0913 or leave a message on our online contact page.

Article written or reviewed by:

Attorney Anthony Russo

Attorney Anthony Russo

Managing Partner and Lawyer at The Russo Firm

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