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What are the Toxic Chemicals Found in AFFF Firefighting Foam?

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) is a type of firefighting foam used by most civilian and military units to suppress fires. However, this firefighting foam contains toxic “forever chemicals” called per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can cause severe health issues if a person is exposed to large quantities. When AFFF firefighting foam is used, PFAS can persist in the environment through soil and drinking sources, possibly causing exposure to civilians and firefighters.

Some adverse health issues caused by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam include kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid disease. Recently, those affected by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam have filed AFFF lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence that exposed people to the harmful substances. If you suffered an adverse health condition because of AFFF firefighting foam, you should speak to a product liability lawyer to determine your best path for recovering compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances?

AFFF firefighting foam contains harmful substances that can expose civilians and firefighters to significant health problems. These substances are called per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), synthetic chemicals used in consumer products since the 1950s. PFAS create fluoropolymer coatings and can help products resist heat, oil, grease, water, and stains.

They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down for thousands of years. Thus, they can persist in the environment when used in a product like AFFF firefighting foam. PFAS can contaminate soils and drinking sources and accumulate in wildlife and fish. All people have very small amounts of PFAS in their system, but exposure to large concentrations of these harmful chemicals can cause significant health issues.

What Adverse Health Conditions Can PFAS Cause?

PFAS that persist in the environment can also invade a person’s body. Overwhelming exposure to PFAS can result in a person’s body containing a dangerous level of the harmful substance, possibly leading to hormone imbalance. PFAS do not biodegrade and will persist in the body, causing continual health issues. While studies have yet to discover how exactly PFAS cause these health issues, exposure to PFAS through AFFF firefighting foam has been connected to a number of severe health problems.

The following are some adverse health conditions caused by PFAS exposure:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Liver enzyme changes
  • Decreased infant birth weight
  • Children having worse vaccine response
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women

Why are PFAS Used in AFFF Firefighting Foam?

PFAS are used in AFFF firefighting foam because it helps create a film over the fire to suppress it. These substances mix with water and can create an aqueous film that cuts off the oxygen to the fire, quickly extinguishing it. Despite their potentially harmful qualities, these substances can help to quell the impact of dangerous fires.

There may be alternatives that can help fight fires while not exposing civilians and firefighters to health risks. However, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) imposed a testing standard for firefighting equipment in 1971 that still stands today and requires firefighting equipment to pass the Ultraviolet Light Degradation Test. The only substances that can pass that test are PFAS, which is why they are still used in AFFF firefighting foam despite the health risks.

Department of Defense Wants PFAS Use in AFFF Phased Out by 2024

One party that understands the dangers associated with PFAS is the Department of Defense. They have vowed to no longer buy PFAS-containing firefighting foam for their military firefighting units, with a plan to phase out PFAS entirely by 2024. Despite how effective it is for fuel fires, the Department of Defense understands the risk it prevents to their personnel and civilians exposed it.

Learn more: AFFF Plaintiffs Filed Motions to Strike Information

Can You Pursue Compensation for Damages Caused by PFAS in AFFF Firefighting Foam?

Victims of PFAS exposure from AFFF firefighting foam have filed AFFF lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for damages, such as Dupont, 3M, and Tyco. Adverse health conditions caused by PFAS exposure can lead to economic damages that affect a person’s financial situation. The health conditions could require high medical costs for treatment and could lead to a temporary or permanent loss of wages. They can also suffer non-economic damages, which reflect how the medical conditions cause a reduced quality of life.

The following are some damages those affected by PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam can pursue compensation for:

How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help You Recover Compensation for Damages Caused by PFAS?

If you suffered a severe medical condition due to PFAS exposure through AFFF firefighting foam, you could file an AFFF lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages. Recently, AFFF lawsuits have consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) before Judge Richard M. Gergel in the United States Federal Court for the District of South Carolina. While this can help plaintiffs by streamlining discovery and allowing them to share resources, it can also add a level of complication for those seeking compensation for damages.

Those who wish to join the AFFF MDL will have to file specific paperwork and follow certain processes that diverge from normal product liability litigation. Hiring a product liability lawyer can help with the process of joining the AFFF MDL, as one with MDL experience can advise you on the best way to join to receive the benefits of any future global settlement. MDLs can take a long time as discovery, bellwether trials, and settlement negotiations take place. A product liability lawyer can serve as a steady advocate through the long process that can represent you and ensure you recover fair compensation for your damages.

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

At The Russo Firm, our product liability lawyers have experience helping victims of dangerous products recover compensation for their damages. We understand the intricacies and processes involved in MDLs and can help you file the proper paperwork to join the AFFF firefighting foam MDL. Our product liability lawyers understand how adverse health conditions caused by PFAS can affect you physically, financially, and psychologically and wish to offer personalized legal counsel that can put you in the best position to recover fair compensatory damages. Contact us for a free consultation today 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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