Firefighting foam containing the chemical substances polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) has been used by firefighters for at least 50 years. Unfortunately, these two substances are highly toxic.
PFOS is short for perfluorooctanoic acid, a man-made chemical that was used in products like Scotchgard. PFOA (also called C8) is also man-made, and it’s been used to make Teflon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS has been identified as being an “emerging contaminant.” In short, this means it is likely to be hazardous to human health.
Firefighters who used the above-mentioned foam to extinguish fires subjected themselves to toxic exposure while helping to save the lives and property of others. This insidious product is linked to testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer in firefighters, workers, military personnel, and regular civilians who were regularly exposed to the carcinogenic chemicals.
History of AFFF
AFFF stands for aqueous film-forming foam. Water is not effective in extinguishing an oil fire. In fact, it is very dangerous to throw water on such a fire. Back in 1902, a Russian chemist and engineer named Aleksandr Loran invented a way to blanket oil fires with foam. Various versions of firefighting foam were then developed in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, with AFFF appearing on the scene by way of the U.S. Navy in the mid-1960s.
What is the Issue with AFFF Firefighting Foam?
The AFFF’s effectiveness on petroleum and jet fuel fires has caused it to be used by the military since the 1950s. It was also used at civilian airports in the United States until 2018. As mentioned above, the chemicals used in the foam are toxic. Unfortunately, there has been such widespread use of these chemicals that they are now found in numerous places in the environment, including groundwater. Even more unsettling is the fact that these chemicals do not break down, and they accumulate in the human body.
The years have revealed that these chemical substances are linked to major health problems such as:
- Altered immune system
- Liver damage
- Altered fetal and child development
- Fertility problems
- Pregnancy-induced preeclampsia and high blood pressure
- Elevated risk of thyroid disease
- Increased cholesterol
- Higher risk of asthma
In addition to the above health issues, exposure to firefighting foam containing PFAS has been connected to the development of the following types of cancer:
WHO – Evidence discovered by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests PFOA causes kidney and testicular cancer, and the organization admits the compound is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Department of Veteran Affairs – The V.A. recently warned veterans about the risks associated with firefighting foam used at military installations. Increased risks involve the cancers mentioned above.
Cancer Claimants From Firefighting Foam
The number of individuals who are filing lawsuits against 3M and other foam manufacturers continues to grow. Claims are being made due to the health issues and environmental risks surrounding AFFF. These plaintiffs are seeking compensation for their cancer diagnoses and additional personal injuries sustained from being exposed to toxic PFAS. Among the AFFF claimants are:
- Military Firefighters – After being developed by the Navy in the 1960s, AFFF’s use in the various military branches has been ongoing for at least 50 years. The foam has even been widely used in non-critical missions and training exercises. The ability to extinguish jet fuel fires has made it particularly coveted. Due to the length of time that AFFF has been used militarily, there could literally be thousands of active-duty personnel or veterans suffering from cancer or the risk thereof because of this toxic substance.
- Airport Firefighters – Airports are another location where AFFF’s use has been widespread for putting out fires and for training firefighters. It makes sense that a product capable of extinguishing jet fuel fires would be extremely helpful at an airport.
However, in light of the knowledge of AFFF’s toxic makeup, it is almost unfathomable that over 93 percent of airports failed to treat the foam-like hazardous waste during firefighter training sessions. In addition, over 93 percent of airports did not even contain nor clean up the AFFF where it lay on the ground after training exercises. This information comes from a study produced by the National Science Foundation after surveying 167 U.S. and Canadian airports between 2015 and 2016.
- Civilian and Volunteer Firefighters – Civilian firefighting organizations have also used the toxic foam, perhaps without knowing the severe health risks. The same hazardous chemicals are also found in common household items like carpeting, furniture, shoes, and nonstick cookware.
- Civilians and Industrial Workers – The dangers of toxic PFAS cannot be overstated. While firefighting foam might have appeared to be helping save lives and property by extinguishing flames, the carcinogenic substance is now in drinking water supplies all across the country from runoff into streams and rivers.
Firefighting Foam Lawsuits Against Manufacturers
The facts seem to indicate that manufacturers likely knew of the cancer-causing nature of PFAS from the very start of the chemicals’ use in firefighting foam products. Already, at least 500 lawsuits have been filed and combined into one MDL (multidistrict litigation) in South Carolina. Firefighters, military or civilian, who may have been affected will need legal representation.
Find AFFF Firefighting Foam Retained Plaintiffs
Broughton Partners finds victims of firefighting foam who are in need of legal help or are actively seeking legal representation. Broughton Partners closely partners with your law firm by providing you with retained plaintiffs who are vetted, prequalified and follow your firefighting foam case criteria.
The ability to bring in new firefighting foam clients in a cost-effective way without sacrificing the needs of your current clients and the daily demands of your practice is a challenge at best. Broughton Partners is here to give you a competitive advantage by connecting you with more qualified firefighting foam plaintiffs that need your representation today.
Call Broughton Partners today at (855) 463-1735, or contact us for your free consultation.