Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

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Due to the extreme difficulty in extinguishing jet fuel and petroleum fires, a product known as firefighting foam was created decades ago that made the job much easier. The chemical-based foam, however, has now been linked to various types of cancers that have shown up in firefighters and others regularly exposed to the substance. Among the cancer types traced to firefighting foam are kidney, testicular and pancreatic.

Victims who have been affected by the toxic chemicals in firefighting foam are searching for experienced legal representation. We here at Broughton Partners have been successfully matching victims with the ideal personal injury law firms they need. When we deliver retained plaintiffs to law firms, the cases are ready and pre-qualified. If your firm is interested in receiving firefighting foam plaintiffs who already have the necessary relevant case documents, give us a call at (912) 304-4444, or complete our online contact form.

What is Firefighting Foam?

It has been customary for airport firefighters and military base firefighters to use a specific foam that is very effective and is chemical-based. The foam is known as aqueous film-forming foam and is abbreviated as AFFF. By cutting off the oxygen that fire needs to burn, the covering that this foam provides makes a firefighter’s job much easier. The two specific chemicals contained in the foam are still being used in some areas. The chemicals are polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, often shortened to PFAS.

Per three entities, (1) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2) the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and (3) the American Cancer Society, it is possible that PFAS could be linked to the development of cancer. The classification of being “emerging contaminants” has been given to the chemicals within the PFAS group, meaning they may likely be hazardous to human health.

Many fire departments in the U.S. stopped using foam containing PFAS. The military, however, still uses the dangerous substance at its bases. Sadly, there is a far-reaching negative effect on people who never handled the substance at all. Their contact with the dangerous chemical can be attributed to the local groundwater carrying the substance and then entering into public drinking water supplies.

The company credited with first producing these dangerous compounds is 3M. Over time, the cancer-causing substances made their way into many chemical products. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict just how long these dangerous compounds will remain in the environment wreaking havoc on human health.

Firefighting Foam Linked to Cancer

Firefighting Foam Side Effects and Complications

PFAS has been connected to the following cancer types:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Neuroendocrine tumors

Additional health dangers exist from exposure to firefighting foam. Among the other potential side effects are:

  • Impaired growth in children
  • Fertility problems
  • Immune system damage

Because PFAS does not deteriorate in the human body, its potential for severe damage is ongoing. This substance is highly durable, and its full effects are not yet known.

Who is at Risk of Harm?

Unfortunately, men and women who perform military duty as firefighters in the United States are at serious risk of being harmed by this cancer-causing foam. The substance has been used militarily since the latter part of the 1960s. Additionally, firefighters at airports used the foam until 2018, and those exposed stand a great risk of harm.

Certain areas received greater exposure and, therefore, individuals who were in these areas may have suffered greater harm. Some of the specific areas include:

  • Chemical plants
  • Oil refineries, terminals, and bulk fuel storage farms
  • Firefighter training areas
  • Aircraft crash sites
  • Military airport hangars
  • Processing and storage facilities for flammable liquids

Firefighting Foam Lawsuit

Some individuals living near military bases, plus some veterans and civilian workers, have begun filing lawsuits after experiencing health disorders like cancer. Legal claims are being made that the federal government and chemical manufacturers of firefighting foam did not properly warn users of the dangerous risks from exposure, thereby preventing victims from safeguarding their own health.

Class action lawsuits are now pending in the legal system, filed by product liability attorneys specializing in toxic tort cases. Attorneys are claiming that the toxic foam used by military bases contains dangerous PFAS that is linked to contaminated groundwater and cancer.

Lawsuits claiming product liability, environmental damage, and personal injury are filed against the following entities:

  • The Ansul Co.
  • 3M Co.
  • Chemguard
  • National Foam
  • Angus Fire
  • The Buckeye Fire Protection Co.
  • Tyco Fire Products
  • United Technologies Corp.

The Department of Defense has identified over 400 military sites as possibly contaminated by toxic PFAS found in firefighting foam. In a 2018 federal inquiry, PFAS was determined to be even worse than earlier thought. This federal determination caused revised guidelines to be written in regard to safe exposure levels. Manufacturers are being sued for their lack of warning to users about the extremely dangerous potential effects of foam exposure.

A lawsuit has been filed in New Jersey by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection against firefighting foam manufacturers who produced and sold their substances in the state for decades. Among the claims are environmental issues and consumer fraud for knowingly creating, selling, and allowing innocent individuals to use a toxic product that poses such serious environmental and health risks.

Early 1960s

The United States Naval Research Laboratory and 3M began conducting research on ways to suppress fires which led to the development of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).

1974

A Navy report was released that questioned the environmental impact of AFFF.

1975

Scientists at 3M were alerted that PFAS chemicals were building up in those who have been exposed to it.

1987

AFFF was used to prevent a severe fire incident in Fairfax, Virginia. After this incident, fire officials began to use the chemical at Dulles International Airport, Bolling and Andrews Air Force Bases, Ft. Belvoir, and the Quantico Marine Corps Base.

2001

An internal memo to the U.S. Department of Defense described PFOS as “persistent, bioaccumulating, and toxic.”

2009

The Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance on safe limits of exposure to PFAS.

2016

The U.S. Air Force purchased a contract for a new type of firefighting foam that is more environmentally safe.

June 2019

Washington state banned PFAS in firefighting foam.

March 2018

Colorado banned PFAS in firefighting foam.

September 2019

Denmark became the first country to ban PFAS in food packaging and New Hampshire banned PFAS in firefighting foam.

December 2019

New York banned PFAS in firefighting foam.

January 2020

A Senate committee advanced a bill that would ban the use of PFAS in firefighting foam.

References

Danielle Kadling. “Senate Committee Advances Bill To Ban PFAS In Firefighting Foam”, Wisconsin Public Radio. Accessed February 7, 2020.

DVNF. “PFAS – Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances”, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Accessed February 7, 2020.

EPA. “Basic Information on PFAS”, United State Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed February 7, 2020.

John Herzfeld and Keshia Clukey. “New York Moves to Ban ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Firefighting Foam”, Bloomberg Environment. Accessed February 7, 2020.

Marc S. Reisch. “Two states ban PFAS in firefighting foam”, C&EN. Accessed February 7, 2020.

Rebecca Beitsch. “DOD watchdog will review military use of cancer-linked chemical”, The Hill. Accessed February 7, 2020.

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