What Is the Connection Between AFFF and Firefighter Cancer?

firefighting foam lawsuit pfas containing firefighting foam
Firefighting foam lawsuit pfas containing firefighting foam

AFFF firefighting foam has long been relied upon as an effective tool for suppressing petroleum and jet fuel fires. However, concerns have arisen regarding the potential link between AFFF exposure and cancer development, particularly among firefighters. In this blog post, we will delve into this pressing issue, exploring the connection between AFFF firefighting foam and cancer.

Let’s address the question at hand: Does AFFF cause cancer?

Yes, studies and findings from reputable health organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established a connection between AFFF firefighting foam and certain types of cancers, including kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancers.

The primary ingredient in most firefighting foams, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” At the same time, the State of California has classified it as “known to cause cancer.” These alarming conclusions have raised concerns and prompted a surge in lawsuits from individuals attributing their illnesses to AFFF exposure.

What AFFF Is and Why It Has Been Extensively Utilized in Firefighting Operations?

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is a specialized firefighting foam known for its remarkable ability to suppress and extinguish flammable liquid fires, particularly those involving jet fuel and petroleum. The foam comprises a mixture of water, fluorochemical surfactants, and foam stabilizers.

When applied to a fire, AFFF forms a thin film that spreads over the burning surface, separating it from the oxygen and preventing the fire from reigniting. This is particularly important in situations where there is a risk of fuel re-ignition or the fire spreading to nearby areas.

Due to its effectiveness in combating fuel fires and its versatility in various fire scenarios, AFFF has been widely adopted by firefighting agencies, airports, and military bases, installations, and industrial facilities.

What Kind of Cancer Does AFFF Firefighting Foam Cause?

Exposure to AFFF firefighting foam has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancers among firefighters. The most notable cancers associated with AFFF exposure include kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancers.

Kidney Cancer

Several studies have found a higher incidence of kidney cancer among firefighters exposed to AFFF. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a key ingredient in AFFF, as a possible human carcinogen. The exact mechanism by which AFFF contributes to kidney cancer development is still being studied.

Testicular Cancer

Firefighters exposed to AFFF have also shown an elevated risk of testicular cancer. While the exact link between AFFF and testicular cancer is not fully understood, researchers believe that the dangerous chemicals present in AFFF, such as PFOS, may disrupt hormone regulation in human body and contribute to the development of testicular tumors.

Pancreatic Cancer

Emerging evidence suggests a potential association between AFFF exposure and pancreatic cancer. Research is ongoing to better understand the underlying mechanisms. Still, it is believed that the toxic chemicals in AFFF may contribute to cellular changes in the pancreas, increasing the risk of cancer development.

It’s important to note that the research on the specific types of cancer caused by AFFF firefighting foam exposure is continuously evolving. While certain cancers, such as kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancers, have shown stronger associations with AFFF, other types, including liver, bladder, neuroendocrine, lymphoma, breast, leukemia, prostate, and ovarian cancers, have also been linked to varying degrees.

What Are the Symptoms of AFFF Exposure?

Exposure to AFFF firefighting foam can lead to various symptoms, including:

  • Burning of the skin and eyes: Direct contact with AFFF may cause a burning sensation on the skin and irritation in the eyes.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Ingesting or inhaling AFFF can result in feelings of nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: AFFF exposure may lead to diarrhea as a result of ingestion or absorption through the digestive system.
  • Muscle spasms and weakness: Some individuals may experience muscle spasms and weakness after exposure to AFFF.
  • Coughing: Inhalation of AFFF aerosols or particles can trigger coughing.
  • Chest tightness or pain: AFFF exposure can cause chest tightness or discomfort in the chest area.
  • Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired or experiencing a lack of energy is another possible symptom of AFFF exposure.
  • Dizziness: Exposure to AFFF may lead to dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Shortness of breath: Some individuals may experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath after exposure to AFFF.

It’s important to note that the specific symptoms and their severity can vary depending on factors such as the amount of exposure, duration of exposure, individual health conditions, and pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma.

If you experience any of these symptoms after AFFF exposure, it is crucial to seek medical attention and inform healthcare professionals about your potential exposure to aid in proper diagnosis and treatment.

Firefighters in action military personnel military firefighters
Firefighters in action military personnel military firefighters

Now that you clearly understand the link between AFFF firefighting foam and certain types of cancer, you may wonder how much exposure to AFFF increases the risk of developing cancer. In this section, we will discuss the factors involved and the potential risks associated with AFFF exposure.

Factors Influencing Firefighting Foam Cancer Risk

Several factors can influence the relationship between AFFF exposure and cancer risk. These factors include:

  1. Duration of Exposure

Repeated and prolonged exposure to AFFF over an extended period can heighten the risk of cancer development. Firefighters, who face regular exposure to AFFF in their line of duty, are particularly at risk due to their repeated contact with the foam.

  1. Methods of Exposure

Exposure to AFFF can occur through direct contact during firefighting operations, inhalation of AFFF aerosols, or absorption through the skin. Different methods of exposure can impact the overall risk level.

  1. The concentration of PFOS

PFOS, a key component in firefighting foam, can exist in varying concentrations across different formulations and products. Higher concentrations of PFOS in AFFF can increase the potential risk of cancer development. However, even low levels of exposure to AFFF have been associated with various health concerns.

While it is challenging to determine an exact threshold of exposure that will cause cancer, research suggests that prolonged and repeated exposure to AFFF over time increases the risk.

By considering the factors influencing cancer risk and implementing preventive measures, we can work towards minimizing exposure and ensuring the safety of firefighters and others working with AFFF.

How Do AFFF Cancer Lawsuits Work and What Do You Need to Know?

If you or a loved one has been affected by fire fighting foam and are considering filing a cancer lawsuit. It’s essential to understand how these lawsuits work and what you need to know.

Let’s discuss the details of AFFF cancer lawsuits so that you can have a comprehensive understanding of the process and key considerations you need to make.

Diagnosis and Exposure Identification

The first step in an AFFF cancer lawsuit is receiving a diagnosis for one of the illnesses linked to PFAS exposure. Medical testing, like blood tests, confirms the connection. Identifying the source and timeline of the exposure can be complex due to the widespread use of PFAS chemicals in various industries.

Establishing Negligence

To pursue an AFFF cancer lawsuit, proving negligence on the part of the AFFF manufacturer or distributor is crucial. This involves failing to provide adequate warnings or actions leading to exposure and subsequent health issues.

Legal Representation

Seeking help from an experienced attorney specializing in AFFF cancer lawsuits is highly recommended. These lawyers have the expertise to navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and build a strong case.

AFFF Class Action Lawsuits

AFFF cancer lawsuits often fall into the category of class-action lawsuits. In a class-action lawsuit, a large group of individuals who have suffered similar injuries or damages join together to seek compensation collectively. This approach strengthens the case by demonstrating a pattern of harm caused by AFFF exposure.

Discovery Phase

Once the lawsuit is filed, it enters the discovery phase. During this stage, evidence is gathered from both sides, and arguments are prepared for trial or settlement negotiations. The discovery process aims to build a strong case by presenting compelling evidence and supporting arguments.

Potential Settlements or Trial

AFFF cancer lawsuits may result in settlements or proceed to trial. Settlements involve reaching an agreement between the plaintiffs (those affected by AFFF exposure) and the defendants (usually the manufacturers or distributors of AFFF). Conversely, trials involve presenting the case in court, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome and potential compensation.

Compensation and Justice

The ultimate goal of AFFF cancer lawsuits is to seek compensation for the damages suffered due to AFFF exposure. This may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. Additionally, these lawsuits aim to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions and raise awareness about the dangers of AFFF exposure.

Get Help Filing an AFFF Firefighter Foam Cancer Lawsuit – Contact Uptown Injury Law Today!

If you or a loved one have been affected by AFFF exposure and are considering filing a cancer lawsuit, Uptown Injury Law firm is here to help.

Our experienced team of attorneys specializes in AFFF firefighter foam cancer cases and will provide you with the expert guidance and support you need.

Don’t navigate the legal process alone. Contact Uptown Injury Law today at 917-540-8728 to schedule a consultation and let us assist you in filing an AFFF firefighter foam cancer lawsuit.


How Many Firefighters Get Cancer Due to AFFF?

An estimated 20% of firefighters develop cancer as a result of their exposure to AFFF firefighting foam. NIOSH reports over 1.1 million firefighters in the U.S., with approximately 80 to 100 deaths per year attributed to AFFF-related cancers.

What to Look for in Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyer

When selecting a lawyer for firefighting foam cancer cases, there are some important factors to consider. First, examine their experience in handling similar cases and their qualifications. It is crucial that they must have expertise in navigating the specific laws of your state or region. Additionally, choose an attorney who actively listens to your concerns and offers sound advice during the legal process.

Is AFFF Foam Linked to Cancer?

Yes, AFFF foam has been linked to the development of various cancers. The PFAS chemicals present in firefighting foam have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and other types of health issues.

What Is the Leading Cause of Cancer in Firefighters?

Exposure to substances during firefighting activities is the primary cause of cancer in firefighters. These substances can include gases, vapors, and particulate matter. Some of these chemical products have carcinogenic potential, posing a significant risk to firefighters’ health. Combustion byproducts, such as formaldehyde or benzene, are hazardous and can contribute to cancer development.

How Can Firefighters Reduce Their Exposure to AFFF Foam?

To minimize exposure to AFFF foam, firefighters can take several precautions. First, they should wear complete personal protective equipment and utilize a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) while handling AFFF. Secondly, it is important for firefighters to thoroughly clean and decontaminate their PPE and SCBA equipment. Lastly, after returning to the station or home, showering within one hour can further reduce the risk of continued exposure.

Is AFFF Firefighting Foam Linked to Prostate Cancer?

Yes, studies have indicated a correlation between AFFF firefighting foam and prostate cancer. In fact, firefighters face a 28% higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to the general population due to their frequent exposure to PFAS chemicals.

What to Do After an AFFF Firefighting Foam Cancer Diagnosis?

If you have been diagnosed with AFFF firefighting foam-related cancer, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional and an attorney specializing in AFFF cases. This is because they can guide you through treatment options, legal proceedings and help you seek compensation for your damages.


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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