AFFF Firefighter Foam Exposure, Symptoms and Side Effects

afff exposure symptoms

Exposure to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may lead to various symptoms and side effects. These symptoms can vary depending on the level and duration of toxic exposure, ranging from mild to severe.

Exposure to AFFF can cause various symptoms like skin irritation, breathing issues, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, and stomach discomfort. If the exposure continues for a long time, more severe side effects may occur, such as a higher risk of cancer, liver damage, fertility problems, and changes in the immune system.

If you are exposed to AFFF, it’s essential to pay attention to any symptoms and seek immediate medical attention. Early evaluation and diagnosis can help you address health problems and explore your legal options with the help of a firefighting foam lawyer.

Short-Term Symptoms of AFFF Exposure

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has identified several medical conditions that are linked to AFFF exposure, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Child development issues
  • Increase in cholesterol
  • Fertility problems
  • Fetal damage
  • Immune system changes
  • Liver disease
  • Low birth weight
  • Pregnancy-induced pre-eclampsia and hypertension
  • Thyroid disease

Can Long-Term AFFF Exposure Cause Cancer?

Studies have evaluated the risks of AFFF to human health and ecosystems. National Cancer Institute indicates that exposure to PFAS chemicals in contaminated drinking water may increase risks of various cancers, thyroid disease, and developmental issues.

PFAS chemicals have a slow breakdown process, causing them to accumulate in the human body over time. This accumulation persists for many decades and is linked to the development of cancer. Prolonged exposure to AFFF, a source of PFAS chemicals, is associated with various types of cancers, such as:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer

More research on the link between AFFF exposure and cancer is still in process. Moreover, these studies have mainly focused on the occupational exposure of firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers who frequently use AFFF during firefighting and training exercises.

Common Situations of Toxic AFFF Exposure

For many years, AFFF has served as a crucial tool in combating fuel fires, with firefighters frequently encountering firefighting foam. Military personnel also face AFFF regularly during training and firefighting missions, which exposes them to harmful PFAS chemicals.

Similarly, individuals working in industries are also at risk of AFFF contamination within their work settings. This exposure can happen through direct skin contact, breathing in aerosol particles, or unintentional ingestion. Consequently, these industrial workers experience significant health impacts due to their regular contact with AFFF and the harmful PFAS chemicals it contains.

What Makes AFFF Toxic?

The Department of Ecology State of Washington discovered that AFFF contains toxic chemicals that pose long-term dangers to human health, waterways, the environment, and animals. AFFF is designed to combat flammable liquid fires and is effective in firefighting. However, the presence of PFAS chemicals can make AFFF toxic.

These man-made chemical compounds are known as forever chemicals for their persistence in the environment and negative health effects on living organisms. Although PFAS chemicals, like PFOS and PFOA, are no longer manufactured in the U.S., they were previously present in firefighting foam. 

Recently, the industry has been developing new AFFF products containing similar chemicals, which are less harmful and less toxic than the previous ones.

Who Are the Defendants in Firefighting Foam Lawsuits?

Firefighting foam has been in commercial use since the early 1970s. Several companies created, marketed, manufactured, distributed, and sold AFFF products. Some of these companies, which are involved in firefighting foam lawsuits as defendants, include:

  • 3M Company
  • Tyco Fire Products
  • Buckeye Fire Equipment
  • Chemguard
  • DuPont de Nemours
  • The Chemours Company
  • Chubb Fire
  • Corteva
  • National Foam
  • Kidde Fire Fighting
  • Enterra Corp.
  • Williams Holdings
  • Dynax Corporation
  • UTC Fire & Security America’s Corp.

What Damages Can You Recover in AFFF Lawsuit?

If you have experienced a health condition related to PFAS exposure from firefighting foam, you can seek compensation for the expenses and difficulties caused by that condition. Possible damages you may recover include:

  • Medical expenses, covering diagnostic tests, hospitalization, prescribed medication, and medical or surgical services.
  • Lost wages, including missed work hours for medical appointments due to serious illness.
  • Compensation for the loss of future earning capacity if your illness hinders your ability to work.
  • Reimbursement for physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
  • It also includes compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life caused by AFFF exposure.

How Is the Government Regulating AFFF Usage?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a major step by proposing the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to address the consequences of PFAS chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) and their mixtures.

The NPDWR aims to establish enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) standards. The MCLs will decide the safe levels of PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS compounds allowed in drinking water. This ensures the public gets drinking water that meets safety standards.

Moreover, the PFAS Action Act 2021 holds the EPA accountable for regulating PFAS under federal environmental laws. This legislation requires the EPA to issue guidance, implement necessary actions, and take significant measures concerning PFAS.

Section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives the EPA the authority to notify if the premanufacture or new use of PFAS chemicals poses an “unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment.” Additionally, the EPA can issue an order under TSCA to ban the “manufacture, processing, and distribution” of PFAS.

These actions show that the EPA is dedicated to dealing with the risks linked to PFAS chemicals in public water systems and the environment, aiming to protect the health and safety of communities.

PFAS Cleanup Disposal Measures

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allocated $1 billion in grant funding as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding is to help communities address and clean up contamination caused by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The EPA’s initiative aims to support the affected areas in cleanup measures, reducing the impacts of PFAS contamination on the environment and public health.

Alternatives to AFFF and Safer Firefighting Practices

The Department of Defense (DOD) has been exploring safer alternatives for fire-extinguishing purposes. They have carefully evaluated various strategies to replace Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) with a fluorine-free foam, considering the risks and costs involved.

Acknowledging the importance of finding a suitable replacement, the DOD has allocated more than $28 million since 2017 towards the research and testing of nearly 20 PFAS-free agents. Some of these alternatives are already available in the market, showing the DOD’s commitment to addressing the issue effectively.

How Can an AFFF Lawyer Help You in a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

AFFF personal injury lawsuits fire fighting foam

If you or your loved ones have been exposed to AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam), it’s important to consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in cases involving firefighting foam. The attorney will evaluate your situation, gather evidence, develop a strong legal strategy, and advocate for you in court. 

Here’s how an AFFF lawyer can provide valuable assistance:

  1. Case Evaluation

An AFFF lawyer will assess the details of your case and examine the extent of AFFF exposure and its impact on your health to determine the strength of your claim.

  1. Legal Expertise

With specialized knowledge in AFFF lawsuits, a firefighting foam lawyer will navigate legal complexities and will ensure you receive the necessary representation for your case.

  1. Evidence Collection

Your AFFF attorney will diligently collect crucial evidence, such as medical records and exposure history, to support and strengthen your case.

  1. Identify Responsible Parties

A firefighting foam lawyer will help you identify liable parties, including manufacturers, distributors, or other entities involved in the firefighting foam’s production and distribution.

  1. Negotiations

Personal injury lawyers are skilled in negotiations. Your lawyer will communicate with the defendant’s insurers to pursue a fair settlement on your behalf.

  1. Trial Representation

If an agreement cannot be reached, an AFFF lawyer will bring your case to court. They will present your case to a judge or jury with the aim of securing the rightful financial compensation for you.

  1. Knowledge of Statute of Limitations

An AFFF lawyer will manage all legal deadlines and ensure that your firefighter cancer lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations to protect your rights.

  1. Handling of Complex Documentation

Your firefighting foam attorney will navigate complex paperwork and oversee the necessary legal documentation for your lawsuit so that you can take your time and focus on your recovery. 

Seek Justice For Your AFFF Exposure With Uptown Injury!

Don’t let firefighting foam exposure affect your health and well-being. At Uptown Injury, our dedicated team of firefighting foam lawyers is here to support you every step of the way. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or have experienced other symptoms and side effects from firefighting foam exposure, take action now. 

Contact us at 917-540-8728 today for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore the legal process. Your health matters, and we are here to stand by your side and fight for justice. 


What Are the Side Effects of Prolonged AFFF Exposure?

Prolonged AFFF exposure may lead to health conditions such as cancer, fertility problems, liver disease, and immunodeficiency.

What Are the Initial Symptoms of PFAS Exposure?

The initial symptoms of PFAS exposure linked to AFFF include gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and developmental problems in children.

Can AFFF Firefighter Foam Exposure Cause Cancer?

Yes, certain PFAS chemicals found in AFFF have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, such as kidney, bladder, prostate, testicular, and various other cancers. However, the exact correlation may vary depending on exposure levels.

Are Military Firefighter Personnel at Higher Risk of AFFF Exposure?

Yes, military firefighters who regularly handle AFFF during training and firefighting operations are at an increased risk of exposure to AFFF.

Can AFFF Lawsuits Help Individuals Affected by Exposure Seek Compensation?

Yes, AFFF lawsuits can help you seek financial compensation for medical expenses, pain, and suffering caused by AFFF exposure and its related health effects.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing an AFFF Lawsuit?

Statutes of limitations vary by jurisdiction, but it’s essential to act promptly, as these time limits can restrict your ability to file a lawsuit after a certain period has passed.


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
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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