The Link Between Firefighting Foam (AFFF) and Cancer
Recently, a growing number of potential lawsuits are being filed for illnesses that people believe are caused by firefighting foams known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). In these claims, the injured persons allege that they contracted certain types of cancers from exposure to AFFF.
But does AFFF cause cancer? The link between firefighting foam and cancer has been made after lengthy research. The main ingredient in most firefighting foams is PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), a surfactant that causes water to form a film on surfaces like gasoline and other flammable liquids.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified AFFF as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” The State of California has listed it as “known to cause cancer.” In other words, there’s a good reason for concern about exposure to AFFF.
What Kind of Cancer Does AFFF Cause?
There are many different types of cancers that AFFF firefighting foam is linked to, including:
Other health challenges linked to AFFF include:
- Liver damage
- Fertility issues
- Immune system deficiency
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Birth defects
- Child developmental delays
- Pregnancy preeclampsia and hypertension
- Thyroid disease
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), long-term occupational exposure to PFAS-containing firefighting foam increases the risk of developing cancer, including kidney, prostate, and testicular cancers. The initial IARC study has since been substantiated and confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How Much Exposure to AFFF will Cause Cancer?
Once you’re exposed to a disease-causing agent, it usually takes a few years from the first exposure for a disease to develop. This is because a single event does not cause cancer – it is the result of changes in the DNA that happen over time. The risk of developing cancer increases with the amount of exposure. The more exposure to AFFF, the greater the risk of developing cancer.
For example, military firefighters’ exposure is high due to daily exposure while on duty. Also, they have a higher chance of developing cancer than civilians because they are more at risk for inhaling toxic fumes and smoke, which contain carcinogens. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has done a lot of research on this issue and found that firefighters may be exposed to AFFF in excess.
How Many Firefighters Get Cancer Due to AFFF?
While the exact number of firefighters who develop cancer due to firefighting is unknown, it is estimated that 20% of firefighters develop cancer due to their exposure to AFFF. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are over 1.1 million volunteer and career firefighters throughout the country. The agency also estimates approximately 80 to 100 deaths each year due to firefighting activities – the majority being AFFF – related cancers.
Through the years, many firefighters have raised concerns over the safety of using AFFF due to its harmful perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). These chemicals can cause cancer in humans, according to EPA scientists who studied them for decades before banning them in 2021. When inhaled, these chemicals can damage DNA in the lungs and liver, leading to cancer development years later.
Symptoms of AFFF Exposure
AFFF exposure can cause the following symptoms:
- Burning of the skin and eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasms and weakness
- Chest tightness or pain
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms of exposure vary depending on how much you breathe in, how long you are exposed, as well as your age and health condition. They also depend on whether you have asthma or other lung conditions.
AFFF Cancer High-Risk Occupations
Some occupations indeed pose a high risk of cancer. In fact, many people in the United States who have been diagnosed with cancer have worked in a high-risk industry. The best way to protect yourself from cancer is to avoid certain exposures at work.
For example, you can use personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, goggles, and masks to protect yourself from chemicals and dust or fumes. You can also wear special clothing with a protective layer against certain hazards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified jobs that involve exposure to AFFF, such as:
Firefighters Stationed at Airports
The firefighters stationed at airports have been found to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with certain types of cancers. This is because they are exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, making them more susceptible to developing various cancers.
AFFF is the main fire-fighting agent used by firefighters to stop aircraft fires and extinguish them. Prolonged exposure to these agents has been linked to cancer among firefighters stationed at Airports.
Military firefighters are exposed to many different kinds of toxic chemicals and substances. AFFF is one of the chemicals that military firefighters use when fighting fires.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has established guidelines for its personnel to protect themselves from these carcinogens. The EPA has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to AFFF, so any amount of exposure can increase the risk for cancer.
How Do I Know if I Have an AFFF Cancer Case?
If you were exposed to large amounts of AFFF, you need to know if there’s any chance that you might have developed cancer as a result. The first thing is to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. Screening tests can help detect cancer early so that it can be treated more effectively.
If you have been diagnosed with AFFF – related cancer, you have a case if you can prove you were exposed to AFFF in the workplace or military setting. Also, your exposure must have been linked to cancer – it was enough exposure for the chemicals in AFFF to build up in your body and cause damage over time.
The good news is that there are lawyers who have handled AFFF cancer cases and have helped patients and family members determine if they have a case. They will take the time to explain everything about the legal options that might be available for your case.
Firefighting Foam Class Action Lawsuit
Are you a firefighter who has been exposed to toxic firefighting foams? If so, you might be eligible for compensation in a class action lawsuit. A class action Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) was established in 2019 to consolidate all firefighting foam lawsuits across the country. New cases are still being filed in the firefighting foam litigation, reaching over 2000 cases by May 2022.
Class actions allow multiple plaintiffs who have similar claims against one company to join in a single lawsuit. This way, they can pool resources and share information, while also spreading the cost of litigation across multiple parties involved in the action.
It’s important to note that a class action lawsuit is not like a normal lawsuit where one person sues another person or business for damages suffered due to their actions. Instead, it allows people who were harmed by the same defendant’s actions or policies to band together so that they can fight as a group for compensation for their injuries and damages.
How Do AFFF Lawsuits Work?
AFFF lawsuits are a type of class-action lawsuit, which means that they are filed on behalf of a large group of people who have AFFF complaints. The majority of AFFF lawsuits involve firefighters who were exposed to the toxic foam and suffered serious health problems as a result. Anyone exposed to these foams can join an AFFF lawsuit and seek compensation for damages.
The Process of Filing AFFF Lawsuits
The process for these cases is very similar to asbestos litigation. First, a person has to be diagnosed with one of the illnesses linked to PFAS exposure – through a blood test or other medical testing.
Next, the victim has to identify the source of their exposure. This can be difficult because PFAS chemicals are used in so many products and industries. It may require significant investigation by an attorney to determine where and when the exposure occurred.
Once the source of exposure has been identified, they must prove that it was due to negligence on the part of the manufacturer or distributor of the product containing PFAS chemicals. For example, if an individual used a product that contained PFAS chemicals and developed cancer as a result, they would need to show that there was no warning label on the packaging telling them about potential health risks associated with using such products.
If those two steps can be proven successfully then it’s time for discovery! Discovery involves gathering evidence from both sides and preparing arguments for trial (or settlement talks). If you’re going through discovery, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney.
The amount at stake is usually much higher because class actions are usually brought by attorneys on behalf of a large group of people who suffered similar injuries. The purpose is to compensate the victims as a whole, rather than individually addressing the needs of each victim.
Also, class actions are generally easier to win than individual lawsuits. The idea behind this is that if you’re going up against a big company and trying to get them to pay out millions or even billions of dollars, it’s going to be much easier for you if there are many other victims involved. In theory, this means that the more people who join your suit, the better chance you have of winning.
In this case, the lawyers representing the AFFF class action lawsuit seek compensation for victims who experienced health problems from being exposed to AFFF foam and are now suffering injuries. According to lawyers within our network, there is a good chance that some type of global settlement will resolve the pending cases.
Firefighter Foam Cash Settlements
Here’s a look at some of the top PFAS settlements that have happened so far:
- $850 Million settlement – 3M for PFAS contamination of Minnesota groundwater.
- $4 Billion settlement – Corteva, DuPont, and Chemours for manufacturing PFAS-rich products.
- $17.5 Million settlement – Johnson Controls for manufacturing Tyco fire products rich in PFAS.
- $50 Million settlement– DuPont, Corteva, and Chemour vs. the State of Delaware for contaminating water with PFAS.
The lawsuits alleged that products had been linked to human health problems, including certain cancers. The settlement agreements were reached in response to allegations that firefighting foam caused cancer. However, the makers of the firefighting foam have claimed their AFFF is safe. The amount of AFFF Lawsuit Settlement can vary depending on many factors, these include:
- Level of exposure
- Severity of injury
- Cost of medical expenses (past, current, future)
- Punitive damages (meant to punish recklessness and deter others from committing similar acts)
What to Look for in Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyers
To ensure that you’re hiring the best lawyer possible, take time to research each lawyer’s background and qualifications before choosing one. The attorneys on your side will work with you every step, from filing your claim to negotiating with insurance companies and defending you in court if necessary. They will help you get the compensation under your state’s laws.
You should make sure that they have handled similar cases in your state or region. While it’s true states could have similar laws regarding product liability claims, there can still be differences between jurisdictions that make it important for an attorney to specialize in them.
Your attorney should also be someone you feel comfortable working with throughout your case. Someone who listens to your concerns and offers sound advice on how best to proceed with your case.
What is the Next Step?
Growing research by government agencies acknowledges that AFFF does cause cancer. Of course, these studies are ongoing, but they certainly warrant attention. If your job involves using AFFF, and you’re suffering from cancer-related symptoms, it’s worth taking steps to establish the cause.
You can consult a lawyer to help with claims and file a lawsuit against the liable party. A mass tort lawsuit lawyer will help you with claims and legal representation throughout the case. Fill out the contact form, to connect with a lawyer within our network that can help with your AFFF lawsuit.