What Is the Scientific Basis Behind AFFF Lawsuits?
AFFF, also known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam, has become increasingly popular in firefighting for its exceptional ability to extinguish fires involving flammable liquids. However, recent studies have uncovered concerning facts related to its performance, resulting in a surge of legal actions and AFFF lawsuits.
The scientific basis for AFFF litigation is the presence of per and poly-fluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS) in firefighting foam. These compounds have been scientifically linked to major health issues and environmental damage, and they are the subject of legal claims and AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits.
What Does AFFF Do, and Why Do We Use It?
AFFF actively suppresses Class B fires with its highly effective synthetic surfactant properties. These fires involve flammable liquids like gasoline and petroleum. As a water-based foam, AFFF actively smothers the flames by generating a layer that deprives them of oxygen, stopping them from spreading further. Because of its superior fire control qualities, firefighting foam is popular among the military, airports, and fire departments.
Although many fire departments have discontinued its use due to recognized risks, it remains in use on various military bases across the United States. For instance, until 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)enforced civilian airports to use the PFAS containing firefighting foam for many years.
How Does the Presence of Toxic Chemicals in AFFF Relate to Firefighting Foam Lawsuits?
Prominent AFFF manufacturers like 3M, Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Equipment, DuPont, National Foam, and Chemguard have marketed AFFF firefighting foam for several decades. However, allegations have emerged suggesting that these companies incorporated toxic chemicals into the manufacturing process of AFFF, leading to a dozen firefighting foam lawsuits.
AFFF contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). These chemicals have been linked to environmental and health hazards.
In response to mounting concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested that chemical manufacturers discontinue certain PFAS types in synthesizing firefighting foam. This calls for the filing of AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits to address the possible impact of PFAS on both the environment and human health.
Why Are PFAS in AFFF Firefighting Foam Considered Dangerous?
Since the 1960s, PFAS compounds have been widely used in the production of firefighting foam. Among these compounds, PFOA and PFOS stand out due to their strong 8-carbon atom chain, classifying them as C-8 chemicals.
These poisonous substances, sometimes known as “forever chemicals,” have a terrifying property which is their slow breakdown rate in the environment and the human body. Once PFAS enter our bodies, they remain for up to eight years.
During this time, they accumulate in our system, increasing the likelihood of severe illnesses like different forms of cancer, hormonal disruptions, and ulcerative colitis.
What Are the Health Risks of AFFF?
There are several health risks of AFFF firefighting foam, such as:
PFAS have been recognized as human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, indicating their potential to cause cancer in people. Moreover, strong scientific data from epidemiological studies also suggest a link between higher concentrations of PFAS in the body and an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as:
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
Exposure to PFAS can cause hormone imbalance. These chemicals can interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in the body, potentially leading to hormonal disruption and related health issues.
Immune System Impairment
Immune system dysfunction is one of the health hazards linked to PFAS exposure. This can result in a weakened immune response, making people more susceptible to diseases and infections. Immune system dysfunction caused by PFAS actively weakens the body’s ability to defend against infections, potentially leading to long-term health implications.
Research published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal has shown that PFAS can cause toxic effects in the liver. Further, long-term exposure to PFAS can damage this vital organ and interfere with its functions. Such disturbance obstructs the body’s ability to perform crucial metabolic activities.
What Environmental Hazards Associated With AFFF Firefighting Foams?
While AFFF firefighting foam is excellent in suppressing fires, it poses substantial environmental risks due to its potential for harmful impacts. When these foams are released into the environment, they can pollute soil, surface water, and groundwater, causing ecological problems.
Contamination of water sources is a key environmental problem linked with AFFF foams. AFFF can enter rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water when utilized in firefighting operations or training exercises. The PFAS compounds in AFFF foam are a cause of concern for aquatic life as well as human populations who rely on these water sources for drinking water and agricultural activities.
Another environmental risk is soil contamination. AFFF foam can infiltrate the soil during firefighting activities, and the PFAS compounds within the foam can persist in the soil for years. This contamination can affect soil quality, plant growth, and soil organisms.
What Are The Efforts of CDC and NIOSH In Raising Awareness Against AFFF?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have taken a proactive approach to raising awareness about the potential risks of firefighting foam and its connection to cancer among firefighters. Their latest initiative, the National Firefighter Registry (NFR) for Cancer, aims to provide valuable education and resources to firefighters across the United States.
By enrolling in the NFR, firefighters can provide vital information about their work and health, helping to uncover important insights that were previously concealed. The NFR encourages all firefighters, regardless of cancer diagnosis, to participate and join the fight against this occupational health challenge. Enrolling in the NFR is a significant step towards a safer future for those who bravely protect our communities.
What’s the Latest Update on the AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuits?
As reported by The Legal Examiner, many current and former firefighters have united in a collective lawsuit known as multidistrict litigation (MDL) against manufacturers of AFFF, such as companies, distributors, and government entities.
In 2018, federal judges combined all AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits against firefighting foam manufacturers into multidistrict litigation (MDL). This MDL was assigned to the South Carolina federal court.
As of April 15, 2022, the number of individuals taking legal action has grown significantly, with 2,422plaintiffs involved and more joining over time.
Furthermore, regulatory agencies and lawmakers are taking action to address the concerns surrounding PFAS contamination. Some states have implemented stricter regulations on using and disposing of AFFF foam, while federal agencies are conducting investigations and working to establish comprehensive guidelines for PFAS management.
Can I Seek Compensation for Cancer Due to AFFF?
If you have been diagnosed with cancer due to exposure to firefighting foam, you are entitled to seek compensation. It may depend on several factors, such as:
- Level of Exposure: The extent of your exposure to AFFF is evaluated to determine compensation eligibility.
- Long-term Prognosis: The seriousness and long-term impact of your illness play a role in assessing the compensation you may be entitled to.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation is awarded for the physical and emotional pain and suffering endured due to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
- Lost Earning Capacity: If your exposure to AFFF foams has caused disability, resulting in a loss of earning capacity, this factor may also be considered when determining compensation.
Compensatory damages usually fall into two categories that are medical bills and pain and suffering. Cancer treatments can impose a significant financial burden, with average monthly costs of around $10,000 to $30,000. Additionally, the non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, can be three times more than the amount of economic damages.
Remember, seeking compensation for your cancer diagnosis due to AFFF exposure involves a complex legal process. It is advisable to consult with an experienced firefighting foam attorney to understand your rights, navigate the legal proceedings, and work towards seeking fair compensation for your suffering.
Consult Uptown Injury For Filing a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been exposed to AFFF and believe that your health is at risk, you can file an AFFF lawsuit to seek compensation. AtUptown Injury Law, our team of experienced firefighting foam lawyers is ready to advocate for your rights.
Are AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuits Based on the Potential Dangers of Toxic Chemicals?
Yes, AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are based on the dangers of toxic chemicals such as PFAS in the AFFF. Moreover, these lawsuits address the PFAS link to serious health issues and environmental contamination to take appropriate legal action.
Can Exposure to Toxic Firefighting Foam Lead to Health Issues?
Yes, there are potential health risks linked to prolonged AFFF exposure. They encompass the development of specific cancers and other detrimental health effects.
Are AFFF Manufacturers Facing Litigation Due to Its Environmental Impact?
Yes, AFFF manufacturers are facing litigation due to the environmental impact of the firefighting foams, particularly regarding the contamination of water sources and soil with PFAS.
Are Firefighting Foam Manufacturers Involved in AFFF Lawsuits?
Yes, firefighting foam manufacturers are the defendants in AFFF foam lawsuits due to their involvement in producing and distributing foam containing PFAS.
Can AFFF Exposure Lead to an Increased Risk of Cancer?
Yes, there is an increased risk of various cancers, such as prostate, kidney, testicular, bladder, and pancreatic cancer, due to prolonged AFFF exposure.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim as Part of AFFF Litigation?
Yes, you can file a personal injury claim as a part of AFFF litigation to seek compensation for expenses such as medical bills and damages caused by exposure to AFFF foam.
Is There a National Registry for Firefighters or Military Personnel to Track Health Issues Related to AFFF Exposure?
Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have established the National Firefighter Registry (NFR) for Cancer. This national registry is specifically designed to track the health issues of firefighters, especially those associated with AFFF exposure.
Can AFFF Lawsuit Lead to Changes in Firefighting Practices and Regulations?
Yes, an AFFF lawsuit has significantly changed firefighting practices and regulations. This includes encouraging safer alternatives and implementing strict guidelines for firefighting foam usage. Moreover, by initiating an AFFF lawsuit, individuals and advocacy groups actively support a safer and more responsible approach to firefighting.