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The Dangers of Aqueous Fire Foam

Aqueous Fire Foam has been used for decades at military bases, airports, and by firefighters across the country. We now know that high concentrations of the chemicals within AFFF have accumulated in peoples’ bodies, increasing their risk of cancer and other diseases.

These individuals deserve better and may be entitled to compensation. At HKD we are actively taking on AFFF exposure cases and representing clients from various backgrounds, including military veterans, firefighters, and factory workers.

The product liability attorneys at HKD have a history of success in holding companies accountable for their negligence. The firm recently recovered $2,300,000 for the victim of a dangerous product and they have recovered more than $500 million for injury victims. If you or someone you know were exposed to AFFF and have since been diagnosed with cancer, please contact us for a free consultation. You won’t owe anything unless we recover money for you.

What You Need to Know About Firefighting Foam

At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we represent firefighters and other workers exposed to carcinogens through AFFF, firefighting foam, throughout their careers. There are serious questions regarding how employers should be protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens in this fire suppressant.

What Is Firefighting Foam?

AFFF is a fire suppressant that quickly extinguishes hydrocarbon fuel fires or other high-hazard flammable liquid fires. It works by blocking the oxygen the fuel needs to burn, suppressing the fuel vapor, providing an overall cooling effect that supports fire suppression. Not only does it work quickly, but it creates an aqueous film on the fuel’s service, which prevents it from reigniting after the fire’s been extinguished.

There’s no denying there’s a need for products like this. While water might be adequate to put out traditional building fires, it isn’t an effective means of suppressing oil-based fires.

The Naval Research Laboratory created AFFF in the 1960s. By 1979, it was used in more than 90 airports in the U.S. and by many civilian fire departments.

When Is AFFF Used?

Firefighting foam is used wherever fuel fires are at risk. That includes airports, refineries, other oil and gas pipelines or operations, aircraft carriers, and other military operations.

Who Has Been Exposed?

Firefighters are most commonly exposed to AFFF and the chemicals it contains. Depending on how often they have to use it, they might be exposed routinely throughout their careers. Airport workers, military personnel, oil and gas workers, and property owners also might be exposed when a fire breaks out, and foam is needed.

Firefighting Foam Contains Carcinogens

Though the military and firefighters have used AFFF for decades, it contains known carcinogens, which are chemicals that increase the risk of people developing cancer or other diseases. The chemicals in AFFF are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) are two of the most common examples.

These chemicals are persistent in the environment, which means they stick around. They’re known to accumulate in wildlife, including water sources. When a person is exposed to PFAS, their body readily absorbs it and doesn’t get rid of it easily.

Because PFAS are carcinogens that accumulate in the body, they increase an exposed person’s risk of certain conditions, including:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid disease

Elevated Chemical Levels in Firefighters

Because firefighters are most often exposed to AFFF, they face a high risk of the dangers associated with these carcinogens.

A study published by researchers from The University of Queensland, Örebro University, and the Queensland University of Technology in 2015, demonstrated that firefighters were exposed to the PFAS. They compared blood samples from 20 firefighters against 20 students and office workers. They found nine fluorinated compounds either only in the firefighters. Five of the compounds were known in the literature, while four unknown compounds were tentatively identified as chemicals analogous to PFOS.

Other researchers looked at chemical levels on California firefighters. Concentrations of PFAS were three times higher in the firefighter group than adult males in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The Government and Industries Know These Chemicals Are Dangerous

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the military, and manufacturers are well-aware of the dangers of PFAS, including those in firefighting foam. According to the EPA, certain PFAS chemicals aren’t manufactured in the U.S. anymore. Through the PFOA Stewardship Program, eight major chemical manufacturers agreed not to put PFOA and related chemicals in their products.

The military is moving forward with new generations of foams that don’t contain PFOS or little-to-no PFOA. The Air Force is swapping out an older foam with a new type and improving procedures to prevent water contamination, which is an issue around numerous bases. The Navy is working on policies to require the removal and disposal of AFFF installed in firefighting systems and then will replace it with a new type of foam. The Army also plans to replace its current firefighting foam stock.

Additionally, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions to phase out the military use of foams containing PFAS chemicals and prohibit the military from using AFFF containing PFAS chemicals during training exercises.

Who Is Liable for AFFF-related Cancer?

If you were diagnosed with cancer or disease linked to chemicals in firefighting foam, talk with us about your legal options. The companies that manufactured firefighting foam might have known about the health risks for decades. But these companies continued to manufacture and sell the products.

PFFF manufacturers include but aren’t limited to:

  • 3M Company
  • DuPont
  • Chemours Company
  • Chemguard
  • Corteva, Inc.
  • Buckeye Fire Equipment Co.
  • Kidde-Fenwal
  • National Foam
  • Tyco Fire Products

We will review your case and discuss the possibility of filing a product liability lawsuit against one or more of these companies. You deserve justice for being exposed to carcinogens throughout your career.

Are You a Firefighter Diagnosed with Cancer?

If you’re a firefighter who spent years working with AFFF and have been diagnosed with cancer, call an experienced attorney to discuss your options. You might have the right to file an AFFF cancer lawsuit.

Our team at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. is here to hold negligent and irresponsible businesses liable for exposing workers to dangerous substances for decades. Call us for a free consultation regarding your eligibility to file a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit. You also can reach out through our short online form.

There is never any cost to consult with us about a possible legal claim. If you choose us to represent you, there are no upfront or hourly fees. We only get paid if we win compensation.

AFFF Exposure Near Airports and Air Bases

People who live near airports or air bases have likely had extensive exposure to harmful AFFF chemicals as well. AFFF has been widely used at airports and air bases and the harmful chemicals in the product are transmitted over the air and through water. Our team can determine if AFFF was used at locations near you and whether it may have caused your cancer.

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It’s best to work with an attorney because it can be difficult to obtain the necessary information from airports and air bases. It often requires us to file a lawsuit and demand information through the discovery process. The discovery process can be time-consuming and involves deadlines that must be followed. We will guide you through this process.

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