What Are the Health Risks of AFFF Firefighter Foam on Children?

AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam, is used to fight flammable liquid fires. It contains PFAS, man-made chemicals which are linked to serious health issues, including cancer. In addition, PFAS are long-lasting and can accumulate in the environment, groundwater, and soil for a long time leading to serious health issues through water and food contamination.

Exposure to PFAS has been associated with developmental problems, immune system disturbances, and other health issues. Children, with their still-developing bodies, could be more susceptible to these adverse effects.

aqueous film forming foams

How Can Children Be Exposed to AFFF?

Children can come into contact with film-forming foam AFFF through different routes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the common pathways, such as:

Maternal Transfer

PFAS chemicals remain in the human body for extended periods without undergoing changes, leading to an accumulation of their concentration in tissues. Because of this reason, these hazardous chemicals have been found in blood and, to a lesser extent, in urine, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood of exposed mothers.

Living Near AFFF-Used Sites

Exposure to PFAS is a concern when AFFF firefighting foam is utilized in fire training facilities, airports, and industrial areas close to your residence. In these situations, there is a potential for your child to come into contact with AFFF through the air they breathe, the water they consume, and the food they ingest.

Contaminated Drinking Water

According to theDepartment of Ecology, drinking water in 43 states is contaminated with PFAS, affecting approximately 19 million people. The release of AFFF into the environment contaminates water sources.Children who consume water from contaminated sources, such as wells or public water supplies, are exposed to firefighting foam and its associated chemicals.

Contact With Contaminated Dust and Soil

Children might encounter AFFF residues while playing in areas where fires or accidental spills of firefighting foam have taken place. If children come into contact with these AFFF residues and subsequently touch their mouths or ingest the residue, there is a potential for exposure to PFAS.

Eating PFAS-Contaminated Fish

PFAS are soluble in water and can readily dissolve. Fish can absorb these compounds through their gills and by consuming contaminated food. Fish and shellfish cultivated in PFAS-contaminated waters can absorb these dangerous chemicals through their grills and by consuming contaminated food.

Transmission Within Families

Individuals engaged in professions that require the use of firefighting foam, like firefighters or military personnel, might transport AFFF residue or pollutants on their clothing, gear, or personal items. This can result in PFAS exposure for children within their households.

aqueous film forming foams

What Are the Health Risks of AFFF Exposure on Children?

The early phases of infancy and childhood play a vital role in growth, organ formation, and neurological advancement. Unfortunately, contact with PFAS via firefighting foam can have negative consequences on the health and overall wellness of children. As per scientific studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), children exposed to AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) are susceptible to the following health hazards:

  1. Reproductive Impairment

Exposure to AFFF containing PFAS can potentially result in reproductive issues among children. This exposure has the ability to disrupt hormonal balance and interfere with the proper functioning of the reproductive system. For example, it might lead to changes in the timing of puberty, reduced fertility potential, and negative effects on the maturing reproductive organs.

  1. Increased Cancer Risk

TheAmerican Cancer Societyhas also revealed that AFFF firefighting foam can cause cancer due to the presence of two carcinogenic compounds, PFOA and PFOS. Prolonged exposure to PFAS has an elevated risk of kidney, thyroid, testicular, bladder, and other types of cancers. Furthermore, children are at a higher risk of developing cancer from this exposure compared to adults.

  1. Reduced Immune System Response

Exposure to the components of AFFF chemicals, which include PFAS, can have a negative impact on the functioning of the immune system. This is particularly concerning for children with weaker immune systems, as they become more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

Furthermore, a compromised immune system can result in reduced effectiveness of vaccines, increased occurrence of illnesses, and a longer recovery period from infections.

  1. Developmental Delays

During the early years of life, children experience significant development in their brains and bodies. Research indicates that being exposed to PFAS compounds can interfere with cognitive growth, resulting in learning and behavioral delays. Moreover, when exposed to PFAS during pregnancy, there are negative effects on the developing fetus, potentially causing lasting developmental setbacks in children.

  1. Obesity and Increased Cholesterol Levels

Exposure to AFFF can also increase cholesterol levels and the risk of obesity in children. AFFF contains certain PFAS, which can disrupt metabolic processes, lead to elevated cholesterol levels, and contribute to weight gain. High cholesterol in children is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which can have long-term health consequences.

How Can I Reduce My Child’s AFFF Exposure?

Reducing your child’s exposure to firefighting foam can help minimize the potential health risks associated with its PFAS substances. Here are several steps you can take to reduce your child’s AFFF exposure:

Choose a Safe Location

Avoid living in proximity to sites such as fire training facilities or airports where AFFF firefighting foam is in active use. These locations have the potential to release AFFF into the air, water, and soil, which can elevate your child’s exposure to these compounds.

Opt for Safe Drinking Water

If you are concerned about tap water being contaminated with AFFF, choose bottled water that adheres to safety standards. Alternatively, consider installing certified water filters that are specifically designed to eliminate PFAS, providing dependable protection.

Limit Contaminated Soil Exposure

To reduce your child’s exposure, make sure they stay away from areas where AFFF has been applied. This is because PFAS residues can settle in dust and air and stay there for a long period. Hence, restrict your child to play or spend time in the AFFF-affected locations. 

Practice Regular Handwashing

Encourage your child to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after playing outside or in areas where AFFF may be present. Handwashing helps remove any potential PFAS residue that might have come into contact with their hands.

Dust Control

Maintain cleanliness by routinely cleaning or wiping down solid surfaces. When dealing with carpets, use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter instead of dry sweeping, which can disperse dust particles. Also, remember to clean hidden spaces and reduce clutter to avoid dust accumulation.

Consult a Doctor

If you have concerns about your child being exposed to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF), it’s a good idea to have a blood test and consult a medical professional to know if your child has been a victim of PFAS exposure.

Are You Concerned About AFFF Exposure Impacting Your Child’s Health?

AFFF exposure has been affecting both children and adults alike. The increased number of lawsuits against firefighting foam manufacturers has raised serious concerns. Your child does not have to suffer from someone else’s negligence. However, you don’t have to be alone. 

At Uptown Injury Law, our firefighting foam lawyers are here to fight on your behalf, hold the responsible parties accountable and get you compensation to ease the financial burden. Our team works on contingency fees, so won’t have to worry about out-of-pocket lawyer fees. 

Reach out to our AFFF lawyer today at 917-540-8728 to set up a free consultation and protect your child’s legal rights. 


How Long Can PFAS Stay in Human Body?

PFAS can stay in the human body for several years. The two main PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), have estimated half-lives of 2-5 years. It means it takes that long for the concentration of these compounds to decrease by half.

How Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) Are Affected by AFFF Exposure?

PFAS compounds in wastewater from industrial sources or spills pose challenges for treatment plants. Standard methods may not completely remove PFAS, contaminating released water and affecting the environment and aquatic life.

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risks of AFFF Exposure at Chemical Plants?

Authorities can take several steps to reduce the risks of AFFF exposure at chemical plants. It includes implementing safe handling procedures, providing training and education to workers, exploring and adopting safer alternatives to AFFF without PFAS compounds, conducting regular monitoring and testing, collaborating with regulatory agencies, and implementing effective wastewater treatment systems.

How Can Firefighters Reduce the Risk of Physical Health Problems From AFFF Exposure?

To reduce the risk of physical health problems from AFFF exposure, firefighters can use personal protective equipment (PPE), follow safe handling procedures, minimize direct skin contact, practice good hygiene, promote ventilation in AFFF-affected areas, and regularly consult with healthcare professionals.

Are There Any Alternatives to AFFF Firefighting Foam?

Yes, there are alternatives to AFFF firefighting foam, including fluorine-free foam solutions. These foams do not contain per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and offer a safer option for fire suppression.

Who Can File a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

Firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers, who are exposed to PFAS and facing health complications, can take legal action by filing a firefighting foam lawsuit. In addition, residents exposed to PFAS-contaminated water can also file a firefighting foam lawsuit.

What Types of Damages Can Plaintiffs Seek in a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

Damages sought in a firefighting foam lawsuit include compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, loss of income, and other related costs resulting from the exposure or use of the foam.

How Can Pregnant Women Be Affected by PFAS?

PFAS have the ability to cross the placenta, entering the bloodstream of the developing fetus. Research indicates that exposure to PFAS during pregnancy could lead to developmental delays, lower birth weight, disruptions in hormonal balance, impacts on the immune system, and potential long-term health issues for both the mother and the child.


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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