Firefighting foam cancer lawsuits are being investigated due to the use of AFFF. Aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF has been used for decades in fire suppression. Unfortunately, this substance has been linked to various cancers. If you have developed a cancerous condition after being exposed to aqueous film-forming foam from using it as an employee or from being exposed in other contexts, you may have legal rights to recover compensation. The attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm are currently reviewing cases for past and current firefighters, military personnel, people who have used it in airport facilities, and property owners who live near AFFF storage facilities who have developed one of the cancers that are associated with exposure to this substance.
What is aqueous film-forming foam?
Aqueous film-forming foam is a fire-suppressant foam that contains perfluorooctane sulfonate or PFOS and/or perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, which are both included in a class of compounds called PFAS. These two chemicals are known toxins that have been linked to numerous health conditions, including various cancers. The chemicals can also enter the groundwater and expose people who live close to AFFF storage facilities, increasing their health risks. AFFF has long been considered to be the best method of combatting Class B fires, but the foam is highly toxic because of the chemicals that it contains. Research has demonstrated that exposure to AFFF is linked to cancers of the following types:
- Bladder cancers
- Kidney cancers
- Neuroendocrine tumors
- Pancreatic cancers
- Prostate cancers
- Testicular cancers
If you have worked with AFFF or believe that you have been exposed to it, your cancerous condition might have been caused by this substance. You might be able to recover compensation for your losses by filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
People at risk from exposure to AFFF
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid are chemical compounds that were originally produced by 3M. They are used to manufacture many types of chemical products, but they are toxic and have long half-lives, meaning that they remain in the environment for lengthy periods.
People who develop cancers from AFFF exposure include those who have worked with the substance or have been in or near to the following locations:
- Bulk fuel storage facilities
- Chemical plants
- Plane crash sites
- Firefighting training sites
- Military airport hangars
- Oil refineries
- Flammable liquid processing facilities
People who have the highest risk of health conditions caused by AFFF include firefighters, Air Force personnel, employees of AFFF manufacturers, and property owners who live near the storage facilities. The U.S. Armed Forces use AFFF during emergencies, firefighter training, and equipment testing.
AFFF and contamination of the groundwater
PFAS concerns involving sites where AFFF is stored or has been used center around groundwater contamination that can impact the water supplies that are used for drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that chemical compounds in this class, including PFOA and PFOS, do not break down in the environment or the human body and can build up over time. When these chemicals seep into the ground at AFFF-contaminated sites, they can enter the groundwater and cause ongoing problems for people who live nearby. Drinking water that has been contaminated by runoff from AFFF can cause people to develop cancers who never directly handled or were exposed to aqueous film-forming foam.
The chemicals in AFFF persist and can be carried for long distances in the environment. These types of chemicals can travel through soil and enter the groundwater. These chemicals can also be carried through the air. People may be exposed to PFOS or PFOA by drinking contaminated water, breathing contaminated air, or directly contacting products that are made from these chemicals.
AFFF exposure risks
AFFF exposure can impact your immune system and increase the risk of malignancies. The chemicals contained in AFFF have been classified as emerging contaminants by the EPA, which means that the environmental and health risks are significant.
The cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/teflon-and-perfluorooctanoic-acid-pfoa.html”>IARC classified PFOA as potentially carcinogenic to humans following studies of factory workers who had been exposed to it while working and subsequently developed bladder cancers.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against numerous companies that have been involved in manufacturing or selling AFFF. Some of the companies include 3M, National Foam, Buckeye Fire Equipment, and Chemguard. The cases include one filed by state of New Jersey and five hundred cases that have been consolidated in a multi-district litigation or MDL in South Carolina, among others.
The lawsuits allege that the defendants manufactured, advertised, and sold AFFF for decades even though they knew of the risks involved from exposure to PFOS and PFOA. They also allege that the groundwater was contaminated at sites where the foam was used, causing extensive health problems, property losses, and other damages.
Filing a lawsuit against the manufacturers and other companies involved in the chain of production might allow victims to recover compensation for their losses. When companies design, manufacture, and market products to consumers as safe, they are liable for the harm that their products cause to people. Companies that misrepresent the safety of their products and that knowingly released them despite their dangers may be liable to everyone who was harmed as a result. The companies that manufactured aqueous film-forming foam and marketed it as safe appear to have ignored evidence of its potentially harmful effects. These companies must be held accountable for their actions so that people and the environment can be protected. If you were exposed as an employee to one of these chemicals while working at your job, you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer and a claim against the manufacturer.
Compensation in an AFFF cancer lawsuit
The compensation that might be available in an AFFF claim will depend on several factors, including the level of your exposure to the chemicals, the severity of your condition, your prognosis, and others. An attorney at The Lovely Law Firm can work with financial and medical experts to determine the value of your claim.
Compensatory damages include economic and noneconomic damages. Your economic damages are monetary awards that are easily quantifiable and include such things as your past and future medical expenses, past and future wage losses, and property losses. If you are the family member of someone who died from a medical condition caused by AFFF exposure, the economic damages might also include reasonable burial and funeral costs and your loved one’s lost inheritance rights.
Noneconomic damages are monetary awards for your more intangible losses. These types of damages are not as easy to calculate and include the following types of damages:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium and guidance in wrongful death claims
Rarely, punitive damages might be available. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate people for their losses and are awarded on top of any compensatory damages that are awarded. Punitive damages are awarded in cases in which the conduct of the defendants is deemed to be particularly outrageous. These types of damages are meant to punish the defendants and deter them from engaging in similar practices in the future. A personal injury attorney at The Lovely Law Firm can value your claim and explain its potential worth.
Contact the Lovely Law Firm
If you have developed a cancerous condition or have lost your loved one because of exposure to AFFF and the chemicals that it contains, you may have legal rights to recover compensation. Contact The Lovely Law Firm to schedule a free evaluation of your claim by calling us at 843.839.4111 or by submitting your contact information through our online contact form.