Firefighting Foam Attorneys

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Are you concerned about firefighting foam and your safety or that of your loved one? Firefighting foam has recently become the center of lawsuits. These lawsuits are based on the alleged health risks associated with exposure to this firefighting foam. Below, we provide an overview of the lawsuits and the issues surrounding them.

What is AFFF?

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) is a type of firefighting foam that has been in use widely since the 1960s. It was developed to fight fires caused by flammable liquids otherwise known as liquid fires e.g. jet fuel or gasoline fires. AFFF works by creating a barrier between the fuel and oxygen. This suffocates the fire and prevents it from re-igniting. It is widely used by both civilian and military firefighters and is a common safety feature on airfields.
AFFF is so effective because of its composition. AFFF includes various man-made chemicals including per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are known for their heat-resistant properties. They are also resistant to oil and water. Because of these properties, PFAS are used widely in the manufacture of non-stick cookware, heat resistant fabrics and food packaging. However, their most concerning application is in firefighting foams.

PFAS are particularly concerning because they are known to accumulate both in the environment and within the human body. These chemicals do not break down easily. They are considered ‘forever’ chemicals. Their accumulation over time can result in health risks.

What are the Dangers of AFFF Exposure?

Recent studies have linked the PFAS to various health concerns including cancer. Exposure to PFAS can occur through direct contact with the foam, inhalation of fumes or consumption of contaminated water and food. Some of the health issues linked to PFAS exposure include:

  • Cancer – certain types of cancer including kidney and testicular cancer have linked to prolonged exposure to PFAS.

  • Liver damage – PFAS can affect liver function. This can result in a wide range of health problems

  • Immune system effects – PFAS have been shown to weaken the immune system. They can make it harder for the body to fight off infections.

  • Developmental issues – Children exposed to PFAS may experience developmental delays as well as other serious health issues.

  • Hormonal disruption – PFAS can interfere with hormone levels. This can result in various reproductive and endocrine problems.

How Exposure to Firefighting Foam Occurs

Exposure to AFFF firefighting foam can occur in two ways:

  • Occupational exposure

Individuals whose professions involve the use of AFFF firefighting foam can be victims of occupational exposure. These include civilian firefighters and military personnel. Firefighters are at high risk of exposure as they use firefighting foam during training exercises as well as while fighting actual fires. Military personnel, especially those working on airfields and navy vessels, are also at high risk of occupational exposure to AFFF firefighting foam. This firefighting foam is widely used on military bases, navy vessels and airfields to fight fuel fires.

  • Groundwater exposure

Another way that individuals may be exposed to PFAS is through groundwater. Firefighting foam can find its way into groundwater. Because PFAS do not breakdown easily and can remain in the environment for long periods, they can seep into groundwater and be consumed by people in contaminated drinking water. Residents in and around military bases, airports and naval bases are especially at risk of this type of exposure.

Injuries Linked to Firefighting Foam

Scientific studies have linked various health issues to exposure of PFAS. These include:

  • Kidney cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Bladder cancer

  • Leukemia and other blood cancers

  • Liver cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Testicular cancer

  • Prostate cancer

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Ovarian cancer

  • Rectal cancer

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Ulcerative cancer

Grounds for the AFFF Lawsuits
Several cases have been filed in connection with adverse health effects related to exposure to firefighting foam. These lawsuits have been filed against the companies that manufactured, distributed and sold AFFF firefighting products. 3M and DuPont, who were the biggest manufacturers of these products, are the two main defendants in these lawsuits. The grounds for the lawsuits include:

  • Negligence – failure of the manufacturers to exercise reasonable care in the production, distribution and marketing of AFFF products. Evidence that goes as far back as the 1970s shows that manufacturers of AFFF products had knowledge of the potential toxicity of PFAS to the environment. There is also evidence that in the 1990s the manufacturers had become aware of the potential harmful effects of the chemicals on human health including cancer.

  • Product liability – the manufacturers of AFFF products produced and sold products that were defective and unreasonably dangerous.

  • Failure to warn – despite the manufacturers being aware of the risks associated with exposure to PFAS, they did not provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding these risks.

  • Environmental contamination – The manufactures are being held liable for widespread contamination to water supplies and the environment.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious health issues as a result of exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, contact us for free consultation. We will help you understand and explore your legal options.