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Navy Veterans and AFFF Firefighter Foam Lawsuits

Firefighting foam cancer

AFFF, also known as aqueous film-forming foam, has long been relied upon for its firefighting capabilities, particularly in the Navy, where it has been used for over 50 years. This foam has been crucial in preventing aircraft fires and explosions on carriers, runways, and other critical areas within naval installations. 

However, it is essential to address the concerns surrounding AFFF’s composition, as it contains PFAS compounds, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” While the fire-retarding chemicals in AFFF have undoubtedly demonstrated their effectiveness, the potential health and environmental hazards associated with these compounds have raised alarms.

As a result, a wave of AFFF lawsuits has swept through the veteran community, seeking justice and compensation for those affected by the foam’s adverse effects.

How Are Military and Navy Firefighters Exposed to AFFF Firefighting Foam?

The exposure primarily occurs through direct contact, encompassing various scenarios, such as:

  1. Firefighting Training Exercises

Training exercises are crucial for honing firefighting skills. AFFF foam is commonly used in these exercises to simulate real-life fire situations. Military and Navy firefighters participate in these exercises repeatedly, leading to prolonged exposure to AFFF foam. Consequently, this prolonged exposure increases the potential health risks associated with the foam’s chemical compounds.

  1. Equipment Maintenance and Testing

Firefighting equipment and systems that utilize AFFF foam require regular maintenance and testing to ensure their effectiveness. Military and Navy firefighters involved in these maintenance and testing procedures may come into contact with AFFF foam during the inspection, repair, or replacement of equipment components. This contact can result in exposure to the foam and its chemicals.

  1. Firefighting Operations on Flight Decks and Military Airports

Military and Navy personnel engaged in fire suppression operations on flight decks and airports often rely on AFFF foam as a crucial firefighting agent. They are exposed to the foam while applying it to extinguish fires in high-stress situations. Direct contact with AFFF foam during these operations increases the risk of PFAS absorption through skin contact, inhalation, or accidental ingestion.

  1. Post-Fire Suppression Cleanup Operations

After a fire incident, military personnel and firefighters engage in cleanup operations to mitigate the aftermath. This process involves handling and removing any aqueous film-forming foam residue left behind. During cleanups, firefighters can potentially get toxic PFAS chemicals on their skin, leading to absorption and potential health risks.

  1. Storage and Handling of AFFF

Military and Navy personnel involved in the storage and handling of AFFF containers and equipment may also face exposure. Improper handling, spills, or leaks can release PFAS compounds into the environment, posing risks not only to the individuals directly handling the foam but also to surrounding personnel and ecosystems.

These scenarios highlight the multiple pathways through which military and Navy firefighters can be exposed to AFFF firefighting foam and the accompanying risks associated with PFAS compound exposure.

What Health Risks Does Exposure to AFFF Firefighting Foam Pose for Military and Navy Firefighters?

. Extensive studies have linked these chemicals to various chronic illnesses, including cancer. Let’s examine the specific health risks in detail:

Increased Risk of Cancer

AFFF foam contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals.” Exposure to PFAS chemicals in AFFF has been linked to an increased risk of various cancers, such as:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Thyroid disease and cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Colorectal cancer (colon and/or rectal cancer)
  • Leukemia
  • Prostate cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that repeated and prolonged exposure to these chemicals during firefighting operations puts military and Navy firefighters at higher risk of developing these types of firefighting foam cancer.

Hormonal Disruption

PFAS chemicals found in AFFF foam can potentially disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. Military and Navy firefighters exposed to AFFF foam may experience hormonal imbalances. This can have far-reaching effects on various bodily functions and systems, including metabolism, reproduction, and overall well-being. Thyroid hormone disruption is particularly common, leading to issues with metabolism, weight regulation, and energy levels.

Respiratory Issues

Inhalation of AFFF foam or its aerosolized particles during firefighting activities or training exercises can result in respiratory exposure. The toxic chemicals in AFFF foam can irritate the respiratory system and potentially lead to respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and exacerbation of pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Skin Irritation and Sensitization

Direct contact with AFFF foam may cause skin irritation, redness, itching, or even dermatitis. Prolonged or repeated exposure to the foam can sensitize the skin, making individuals more susceptible to allergic reactions upon future contact. Hence, military and Navy firefighters who regularly handle AFFF foam may be at a higher risk of experiencing these skin-related health issues.

Reproductive and Developmental Effects

Studies have indicated that PFAS chemicals present in AFFF foam may adversely affect reproductive and developmental health. Exposures to these chemicals have been associated with reduced fertility, alterations in hormone levels, and potential developmental effects on infants and children. Therefore, military and Navy firefighters, particularly those of reproductive age, should be aware of these potential risks.

While AFFF firefighting foam has proven valuable in combating fuel-based fires, the potential health risks associated with exposure to the foam and its PFAS chemical components cannot be ignored. Implementing preventive measures, proper training, and alternative firefighting solutions can help minimize exposure and protect the health and well-being of these brave firefighters.

AFFF Lawsuits Against Firefighting Foam Manufacturers

film forming foam afff

Firefighting foam cancer lawsuits aim to hold the manufacturers accountable for the health consequences suffered by military and Navy firefighters due to their exposure to AFFF foam and its harmful PFAS chemicals.

Lawsuit Allegations

Plaintiffs in AFFF-related lawsuits assert claims of negligence, product liability, failure to warn, and breach of warranty against AFFF manufacturers. The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits contend that these companies were aware of the potential risks associated with the PFAS chemicals in AFFF foam but failed to adequately warn users or provide safer alternatives.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Defendants

These lawsuits have named several prominent AFFF manufacturers, including:

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

These companies have faced allegations of prioritizing profits over public safety and neglecting to disclose the potential health risks associated with their AFFF products.

AFFF Class-Action Lawsuit

Some legal actions related to AFFF exposure have taken the form of AFFF class-action lawsuits, consolidating multiple plaintiffs impacted by the harmful effects of AFFF foam. Moreover, by joining forces, these collective legal actions strive to streamline the litigation process, share information and resources, and increase the strength of the claims against firefighting foam manufacturers.

Lawsuit Outcomes

The outcomes of AFFF-related lawsuits have varied. Some cases have resulted in settlements or court judgments favoring the plaintiffs, providing compensation to cover medical expenses, ongoing treatments, lost wages, and other damages caused by AFFF-related health issues. However, it’s important to note that some AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are still ongoing as the legal battles surrounding AFFF exposure continue.

Uptown Injury: Your Firefighting Foam Lawyers in New York

If you’ve been affected by exposure to firefighting foam and are facing health complications, the Uptown Injuryteam of experienced firefighting foam lawyers is here to help. With a track record of securing over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients, we have the expertise to fight for the compensation you deserve. So, what are you waiting for? – schedule a free consultation today to explore your options. Contact us onlineor call our firefighting foam attorneys at 917-540-8728.

FAQs

How to File a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one were exposed to AFFF and developed cancer, you may be eligible to file an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit. Moreover, contact an experienced attorney specializing in AFFF foam lawsuits to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

What Are the Typical Settlement Amounts in AFFF Lawsuit Cases?

Settlement amounts in AFFF lawsuit cases vary greatly depending on factors such as the severity of injuries, strength of evidence, and case specifics. However, settlement amounts in AFFF lawsuits have ranged from thousands to millions of dollars.

How Can a Firefighting Foam Lawyer Help Me?

A firefighting foam lawyer can evaluate your case, gather evidence, and advocate for your rights in a lawsuit. Furthermore, they help you navigate the legal process, negotiate with responsible parties, and seek fair compensation for your damages.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve an AFFF Lawsuit?

The timeframe for resolving an AFFF lawsuit varies based on factors like case complexity, parties involved, and court schedule. Parties can reach settlements within months, while trials may extend the process to a year or longer.

Who Is at Risk of Exposure to Toxic Firefighting Foam?

Firefighters, military and navy firefighters, military service members, and workers in airport and industrial settings are at risk of exposure to toxic firefighting foam. Additionally, individuals consuming drinking water in areas where AFFF foam has been used are also susceptible to exposure.

How Much Is PFAS Chemical in Firefighting Foam?

Typically, firefighting foam formulations contain approximately 3 to 6% by weight of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It’s important to note that the foam composition also includes water, additional surfactants, stabilizers, solubilizers, and various other chemicals.

Are U.S. Military Firefighters at Risk of Developing Cancer From PFAS?

Yes, U.S. military firefighters are at risk of developing cancer from PFAS exposure. Due to their frequent and prolonged exposure to firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals, they are likely to develop various types of cancer. These include bladder, breast, colorectal, kidney, leukemia, liver, mesothelioma, pancreatic, prostate, and testicular cancer.

Is AFFF Foam Still in Use?

Yes, unfortunately, AFFF is still in use today, despite awareness of the concerns regarding PFAS chemicals. Specific firefighting scenarios require its employment due to its essential fire-suppression capabilities. Nonetheless, ongoing efforts are underway to find safer alternatives and decrease reliance on AFFF foam to minimize the associated risks.

When Was AFFF Used in the Navy?

The Navy started using AFFF foam in the mid-1960s. Later they obtained a patent for it in 1966. The 3M Company manufactured AFFF for the military. By the late 1960s, AFFF became a requirement for all Navy vessels. In the 1970s, the Department of Defense extended the use of AFFF to fight fuel fires at military installations.

What Are the Alternatives to AFFF Foam in Firefighting?

There are three main alternatives to AFFF foam: fluorine-free firefighting foam, dry chemical agents, and C8 firefighting foam concentrates

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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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