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AFFF Firefighter Foam Contamination in Navy Ships

AFFF firefighter foam lawyer

AFFF, or Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, is frequently employed by the military as a firefighting agent. However, it’s important to note that AFFF contains substances known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are both persistent and harmful chemicals.

Studies by the Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, have confirmed the toxic effects of PFAS-containing foams.

If you are exposed to AFFF and suffer health problems, you may have grounds for legal action. For this purpose, working with experienced AFFF lawyers can help you seek justice and hold responsible parties accountable.

What Is the Importance of AFFF on Navy Ships?

AFFF firefighting foam-High risk

AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) is crucial on Navy ships due to its essential role as a versatile firefighting agent. It effectively combats fires involving flammable liquids and petroleum-based substances. Additionally, AFFF serves as a pivotal tool in ensuring shipboard fire safety.

While AFFF is effective in firefighting, it also contains hazardous PFAS chemicals. These chemicals have raised significant concerns regarding their persistence in the environment and their adverse effects on health. 

When AFFF Dangers Were Exposed?

The dangers of AFFF firefighting foam were exposed when a study was conducted by the Department of Defense in 1970. This study highlighted the potential harm of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in AFFF, which can contaminate water sources and have adverse health effects on both humans and marine life. 

Subsequent research has shown PFAS to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and linked to various health concerns, including an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers. This discovery has led to several PFAS contamination and AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits. 

How Does AFFF Contamination Happen on Navy Ships?

AFFF contamination on navy ships can happen in various ways. Such as:

Training & Drills

Navy personnel practice firefighting using AFFF during training sessions and fire drills to prepare for real emergencies. Even in these practice exercises, PFAS chemicals can be released into the environment.

Storage and Handling

Storing and handling AFFF can also lead to AFFF contamination. If the foam leaks or spills, PFAS can seep into the surroundings and spread to other areas of the ship or may contaminate the seawater. 

Firefighting Equipment and Gear

During firefighting operations, navy personnel can come into contact with PFAS particles by using firefighting equipment and protective gear. If these items are not properly cleaned or maintained, PFAS can spread to other parts of the ship.

Runoff and Drainage

(AFFF), when used to fight fires, has the potential to combine with water, creating a runoff. This runoff may find its way into ship drains and drinking water systems, leading to the spread of AFFF and the release of PFAS chemicals to various parts of the ship.

Accidental Leaks

Accidents can occur, and AFFF containers may leak or become damaged. For instance, there was a reported incident involving a maintenance contractor on a naval ship. The contractor improperly installed the air vacuum valve, resulting in an AFFF spill that went unnoticed for 20 minutes due to the contractor’s negligence. Furthermore, it took an additional 8 minutes for the contractor to report the spill, attributed to a lack of phone or radio communication. 

What Are the Health Impacts of PFAS Chemicals on Navy Personnel?

The presence of PFAS in firefighting foam poses a significant health threat, such as:

Bioaccumulation of Chemicals in the Body

PFAS, or per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, have the ability to stay in the human body over a prolonged duration, even with a single exposure. This results in the gradual buildup of these chemicals in our organs, leading to potential health problems.

Impact on Organs and Functions of the Body

Studies have linked PFAS exposure to various human health issues, such as problems with the liver, kidneys, and thyroid disease. It can also affect the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight illnesses.

Reproductive Health Issues

Exposure to PFAS has raised concerns about its impact on reproductive health. For example, it might affect fertility and cause congenital disabilities during pregnancy.

Risk of Cancer

While more research is ongoing, some studies show a potential link between PFAS exposure and certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, liver, and kidney cancer.

Who Is Responsible for AFFF Contamination on Navy Ships?

Multiple parties, including those using, handling, and overseeing firefighting foam, bear responsibility for AFFF contamination. Here are the key parties that might bear responsibility:

AFFF Manufacturers and Suppliers

Manufacturers and suppliers of AFFF products bear the responsibility for ensuring the safety of their items and providing accurate labeling. If AFFF includes hazardous substances such as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and presents health hazards, these manufacturers may be held accountable for the adverse outcomes stemming from its usage.

Navy Authorities

The Navy plays a crucial role in managing AFFF usage. Therefore, they might share responsibility for any resulting contamination if they did not follow proper protocols and safety measures.

Contractors and Firefighters

Firefighting foam contractors hired by the Navy to conduct firefighting exercises or provide firefighting services on ships may also play a role in AFFF usage and handling. If there were any failures in the proper use and disposal of AFFF, they might share responsibility.

Government Entities

If the risks associated with AFFF are not identified and addressed. In that case, the government entities such as the government accountability office can be held responsible for their negligence in regulating firefighting foams and ensuring safety.

How to Know if You’re Eligible to File an AFFF Lawsuit?

If you served in the Navy and believe that your health issues are connected to AFFF exposure, you might be eligible to file an AFFF lawsuit. Here are some factors to consider:

Firefighting Foam Exposure During Service

Reflect on your time in the Navy and recall if you had any direct or indirect exposure to AFFF during firefighting drills, emergency responses, or training exercises. Your exposure to AFFF containing PFAS could be a significant factor in determining your eligibility.

Occurrence of Health Problems

If you believe that you are experiencing health problems linked to AFFF exposure, then you are eligible to file an AFFF lawsuit. Health issues such as kidney problems, liver disorders, thyroid imbalances, certain cancers, or other symptoms associated with PFAS exposure could be taken into account.

How to File a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit as Navy Veteran or Personnel?

Filing a firefighting foam lawsuit is a complex process. However, with the help of an experienced AFFF lawyer, you can easily navigate through the legal process. Here are some steps to consider when pursuing an AFFF firefighter foam lawsuit:

Consult a Firefighting Foam Lawyer

The first step is to consult with a firefighting foam attorney specializing in toxic mass tort cases and who has experience representing Navy service members. The lawyer will assess the strength of your case, help you understand your legal rights, and guide you through the legal process.

Gather Evidence

Collect all relevant evidence related to your AFFF exposure and resulting health issues during your time in the Navy. This may include medical records, service records, incident reports, and any documentation showing your exposure to AFFF. 

Determine Liability

Your firefighting foam attorney will help identify and determine the liable party in your AFFF exposure. Moreover, after identifying the responsible party, your lawyer will serve them with a notice.

File the Lawsuit

After your attorney has collected the required evidence and determined the responsible party, they will assist you in initiating a lawsuit related to AFFF (firefighting foam). Additionally, your attorney will take care of all the necessary legal documentation and provide representation throughout the entire legal procedure.

Discovery and Negotiation

During the discovery phase, both parties will exchange information and evidence. Moreover, your lawyer will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance on your behalf to seek a fair settlement for your injuries and damages.

Trial or Settlement

If the case fails to settle during negotiations, it may proceed to trial. Your firefighting foam attorney will represent you in court, presenting your case to a judge and jury. Alternatively, if a settlement is reached, your lawyer will ensure it compensates you for your injuries.

Compensation

If the court decides in your favor or reaches a settlement, you might receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from your AFFF exposure.

Have You Been Affected by AFFF Exposure? Let Uptown Injury Help You!

If you or your loved ones have bravely served in the Navy, facing the harmful consequences of firefighting foam exposure, you deserve more than just recognition – you deserve justice, compensation, and a voice that echoes throughout the corridors of accountability. 

Uptown Injury Law stands by your side with a dedicated team of firefighting foam attorneys. We’ll navigate the legal complexities, gather evidence and build a strong case, negotiate with the insurers, and get you the compensation you deserve for your suffering. 

Reach out to us at 917-540-8728 for a free consultation and case review today!

FAQs

Can Navy Veterans File AFFF Lawsuits for Compensation?

Yes, Navy veterans who have suffered health consequences due to AFFF exposure may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Consulting an experienced AFFF lawyer can help navigate the legal process and protect your rights throughout the lawsuit.

Can I File an AFFF Lawsuit if I Was Exposed to AFFF Off-Duty or During My Service, Years Ago?

Yes, you might still be eligible to file an AFFF lawsuit if you were exposed to AFFF off-duty or during your service years ago. The statute of limitations varies by state. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced firefighting foam attorney to assess your case’s viability and determine if you can pursue compensation for the harm caused by AFFF exposure, even after many years.

What Types of Compensation Can I Seek in an AFFF Lawsuit?

In an AFFF lawsuit, you may seek various types of compensation. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from AFFF exposure.

How Can a Firefighting Foam Attorney Help Me With My AFFF Lawsuit?

An AFFF lawyer assesses your case, gathers evidence, handles the legal process, represents you in court, negotiates with responsible parties, and fights for your rightful compensation, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.

Can I Join a Class-Action Lawsuit for AFFF Exposure on Navy Ships?

Yes, you might qualify for a class-action lawsuit on AFFF exposure, but it’s important to consult an AFFF attorney to decide if it’s the best option for you.

What Should I Do if I Suspect AFFF Exposure Has Affected My Health?

If you suspect AFFF exposure has impacted your health, seek medical attention promptly and consult an experienced AFFF lawyer to determine your eligibility to file a claim. 

How Long Does It Take to Resolve an AFFF Lawsuit?

The timeline to resolve an AFFF lawsuit can vary based on the case’s complexity, the number of parties involved, and whether it goes to trial or is settled out of court. Some AFFF lawsuits might be resolved within months, while others could take several years to reach a conclusion.

What Evidence Is Crucial for an AFFF Lawsuit?

Key evidence in an AFFF lawsuit consists of records showing your exposure to AFFF, medical records, service history, and any proof of negligence by manufacturers or authorities. This evidence is crucial in establishing the connection between AFFF exposure and your health issues to strengthen your overall claim.

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Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
WRITTEN AND REVIEWED BY
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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