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AFFF Lawsuit Navy – The Use And Impact

AFFF firefighter foam lawsuit

AFFF, which stands for Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, is a type of firefighting foam designed to efficiently tackle fires, particularly those involving aircraft. This foam contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) along with synthetic foaming surfactants.

Firefighting foam plays a crucial role in firefighting and aircraft crash-fire rescues at military bases. However, it also poses severe environmental and health risks.

Long-term AFFF exposure through direct contact, inhalation, or water contamination can result in bladder cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, lymphoma, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer, as well as potential impairment of the immune system.

So, if you believe that you have suffered health consequences due to PFAS exposure while in the Navy, you must contact an AFFF lawyer as soon as possible.

AFFF Foam Usage in the Navy

Since the early 1970s, hundreds of military personnel have used AFFF to extinguish jet fuel fires and petroleum fires during firefighting operations and drills. Throughout the 50-year history of aqueous fire fighting foam, various domestic and international companies have manufactured, distributed, and sold wide varieties of AFFF. Historically, the U.S. military has been one of the largest consumers of these firefighting foams, including companies like:

  • FireAid by Fire Service Plus, Inc.
  • Buckeye Fire Equipment Company
  • Chemguard, Inc.
  • 3M
  • Williams Fire & Hazard Control

How Is AFFF Foam Used on Navy Vessels and Installations?

Navy surface ships have low-capacity and high-capacity AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) systems. These systems safeguard critical areas where flammable liquid fires (Class B fires) may arise. Such areas include:

  • Machinery spaces
  • Fueled vehicle storage spaces
  • Helicopter hangars
  • Landing platforms
  • Refueling stations
  • Flight decks
  • Hangar bays
  • Fuel pump rooms

Installing AFFF fire suppression systems is crucial for rapid protection against fires and for improving ship safety during fire incidents.

What Is the Composition of AFFF Foam?

AFFF foam comprises water, surfactants, solubilizers, and fluorochemicals, creating a foamy mixture to combat fires. This mixture contains various chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals have been used in various industrial and consumer products since the 1950s.

Two common PFAS found in AFFF are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS is a byproduct of initial compounds, and PFOA is a byproduct created during the manufacturing of AFFF. Many AFFF formulations may include other PFAS side products that raise health and environmental concerns.

How Does Aqueous Film Forming Foams Work in Firefighting?

Firefighters use AFFF to extinguish fires that are difficult to combat with water alone, especially those that involve flammable liquids like petroleum. Firefighters spray AFFF onto a fire, which works by suppressing and cooling the fuel. It also covers the fuel by forming a film that prevents oxygen supply and stops the fire from reigniting.

What Is the Historical Use of AFFF Foam in the Navy?

In the 1960s, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and 3M collaborated to study synthetic chemicals, PFAS, for firefighting foams. They used perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to create AFFF, which efficiently extinguished fuel-based fires and prevented reignition due to its low viscosity and rapid spreading on flammable liquids.

The Navy patented the invention in 1966, and 3M began manufacturing AFFF for military firefighters in the mid-1960s.

By the late 1960s, the U.S. Navy mandated the usage of AFFF on all its ships. In the 1970s, the Department of Defense adopted AFFF for firefighting at all military installations. By the late 1970s, the military, more than 90 U.S. airports, and numerous civilian fire departments used the Navy-developed AFFF fire extinguisher.

How Has AFFF Foam Impacted the Environment?

In an October 2019 white paper, an International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) expert panel presented strong evidence from recent studies. These studies showed that firefighters exposed to AFFF have higher levels of PFOA and PFOS in their blood, indicating an increased risk of PFAS exposure from multiple sources, such as:

  • Fire suppression operations and training centers
  • Contact with contaminated PPE
  • Managing PFAS wastes
  • Contaminated fire stations

Groundwater Contamination and Its Consequences

PFAS are non-biodegradable and is known as “forever chemicals.” They are water-soluble and persist in the environment for extended periods.

Moreover, PFAS migration can significantly contaminate large amounts of groundwater, posing significant risks to areas near military bases and airports. It can contaminate groundwater through accidental spills, training exercises, or firefighting operations.

Long-term exposure to PFAS compounds in drinking water sources poses adverse health outcomes to people, such as liver damage, asthma, thyroid disease, immune system disruption, and various cancers.

Where Is AFFF Used?

film forming foam afff

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) is commonly used in various settings for firefighting and fire extinguishing purposes, such as:

  • Naval and aviation operations
  • Chemical plants
  • Fire departments and other municipal services
  • Flammable liquid storage and processing facilities
  • Highway emergency response
  • Military facilities
  • Oil refineries and bulk fuel storage facilities
  • Oil tankers and offshore platforms

Who Are the Firefighting Foam Manufacturers?

Since the invention of AFFF in the 1960s, the following companies have been involved in the manufacturing and distribution of firefighting foam:

  • 3M Company
  • Ansul
  • Chemguard, Inc.
  • DuPont
  • Dynax Corporation
  • National Foam
  • Tyco Fire Products

What Are the Two Most Used Ratios of AFFF Foam in the Navy?

A study by Navy Technology Center for Safety & Survivability shows that AFFF is used in the U.S. military and most civilian applications worldwide in the following ratios:

  • Type 3 or 3%
  • Type 6 or 6%

These numbers refer to the percentage of foam concentrate mixed with fresh water or seawater. In the U.S. Department of Defense, 6% concentrate is used in most shipboard applications, while 3% is used in most land-based applications.

How Is the Navy Addressing AFFF Exposure Environmental Concerns?

Department of Defense officials estimate that today, over 98% of Americans have traces of PFAS in their blood. It is primarily due to the exposure of PFAS in many industrial and consumer products. In addition, DOD has invested over $1.5 billion in PFAS-related research and cleanup activities.

Exploring Safe Alternatives of Firefighting Foams

To find safer alternatives to AFFF, the Department of Defense (DOD) has thoroughly evaluated various strategies and their associated risks and costs. Understanding the importance of the issue, the DOD has invested over $28 million since 2017 to develop and test nearly 20 PFAS-free agents. Some of these alternatives are already available in the market.

Collaboration with Environmental Agencies and Organizations

In May 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued health advisories for two chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, in drinking water. In response, the Department of Defense (DOD) instructed military bases to:

  • Identify locations where PFOS and PFOA releases are known or suspected and address their risks to human health, including people outside DOD sites.
  • Test drinking water and resolve any contamination above EPA health advisory levels.

By August 2017, DOD had identified 401 active or closed military locations with PFOS or PFOA releases. To address this, the military departments spent approximately $200 million for environmental investigations and responses at 263 PFAS-contaminated locations.

Regulations and Policies Regarding AFFF Foam Usage

Due to health and environmental concerns, some manufacturers voluntarily reduced PFOS production in the United States in 2002. Additionally, the EPA reported that other companies agreed to stop the production of PFOA and related chemicals by 2015.

In January 2021, the EPA issued final guidance on its Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) to regulate PFAS. This rule prohibits certain long-chain PFAS from being imported, manufactured, used, or processed without prior EPA review and approval.

However, older AFFF stock may still contain these harmful chemicals despite these regulations.

What Is the Role of a Firefighting Foam Lawyer?

An AFFF lawyer is crucial in addressing the legal aspects surrounding a firefighting foam lawsuit. They specialize in advocating for your rights and helping you obtain maximum compensation in AFFF lawsuits.

Here are some critical aspects of a firefighting foam lawyer’s role:

Filing Lawsuits: An AFFF lawyer represents you if you are harmed by PFAS exposure. Your attorney will assist you in filing lawsuits against responsible parties, such as the Navy or firefighting foam manufacturers.

Class Action Lawsuits: In cases involving widespread harm, a judge may initiate class action lawsuits, consolidating the claims of numerous affected plaintiffs into a single legal action. In cases, an AFFF lawyer will represent you in court and fight on your behalf. 

Navy’s Duty: A firefighting foam lawyer examines the legal responsibilities of the Navy, ensuring compliance with regulations, proper AFFF foam usage, and adequate measures to prevent contamination.

Manufacturer Accountability: Your lawyer will hold AFFF foam manufacturers accountable for defective products, inadequate warnings, or failure to address known risks associated with PFAS-containing products.

Financial Compensation: A firefighting foam lawyer fights for the compensation you deserve. AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages suffered.

Looking for a Navy Firefighting Foam Lawyer? Contact Uptown Injury!

If you’ve encountered any health challenges due to PFAS or AFFF exposure during your firefighting service, it’s crucial to take action now. Reach out to a dedicated firefighting foam lawyer at Uptown Injury without delay. Our team specializes in supporting firefighters and Navy personnel across the nation. Your well-being matters – let us help you navigate this journey effectively.

Contact us today at 917-540-8728 to discover your legal options and get a free case review. 

FAQs

Why Is AFFF Foam Used in the Navy?

AFFF foam is a fire suppressant used in the Navy because it effectively extinguishes class B fires on ships, installations, and aircraft. It forms a film on the fuel surface, reducing oxygen supply and suppressing the flames.

What Are the Environmental Concerns Associated With AFFF Foam?

AFFF foam contains per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can contaminate groundwater and affect aquatic ecosystems, marine life, and human health.

Does the Navy Still Use AFFF Foam?

While efforts are being made to produce PFAS-free foams, AFFF foam is still used by the Navy, but with increased awareness and regulations to minimize its environmental concern.

What Are the Health Risks of AFFF Foam Exposure?

Prolonged exposure to AFFF foam and PFAS chemicals has been associated with health risks, including liver damage, immune system disruption, and certain cancers such as testicular, bladder, breast, and prostate.

Are There Any Regulations in Place Regarding AFFF Foam Usage?

Yes, governmental agencies and the Department of Defense govern AFFF foam use and disposal, aiming to minimize environmental contamination and protect firefighter health.

Can Individuals Seek Compensation for AFFF Exposure?

Yes, affected individuals can seek compensation for damages and medical expenses from AFFF exposure. Consult a firefighting foam lawyer today to understand your legal rights and AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts.

How Can I Determine if I Have Been Exposed to AFFF Foam?

To determine if you have been exposed to AFFF foam, consider the following steps:
– Identify potential exposure sources
– Review your occupation and surroundings
– Check your medical history
– Look for official records
– Stay informed

What Should I Do if I Suspect AFFF Foam Contamination in My Area?

If you suspect AFFF contamination in your area, contact local environmental agencies and authorities to report your concerns. Moreover, seek legal advice from an AFFF lawyer to understand your rights and courses of action.

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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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