Ever since 1950, firefighters have been using the firefighting suppressant known as aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) for extinguishing jet fuel, aircraft and petroleum fires. While very effective, recent medical studies revealed that, because it contains toxic chemical compounds such as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), people who are exposed to it have a higher risk of developing serious diseases.
Why Is AFFF Dangerous to Human Health?
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, both PFOS and PFOA are human carcinogens. Moreover, multiple health organizations around the world classify these chemical compounds as emerging contaminants, as once they are released in the environment, they persist there forever, polluting the soil and the water, thereby endangering human life. Similarly, when a person inhales PFOS and PFOA from firefighting foam, their body will never be able to remove the carcinogens from the bloodstream, which may lead to various diseases over time.
Exposure to PFOS and PFOA, Linked to Multiple Cancers
People who are frequently in direct contact with AFFF have a significant risk of developing the following malignant diseases: prostate cancer, lymphoma, kidney cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, bladder cancer and testicular cancer. Once the PFOS and PFOA enter the human body, they will reside in the bloodstream forever and the toxic substances can subsequently reach one of the organs above. Within several years, the victims of exposure may develop fire foam cancer, which will affect the part of the body the PFOS and PFOA attached themselves to.
How Much Compensation I Will Get If I Was Exposed to AFFF?
It is important to be aware that if you are a firefighter or work as a military personnel and have recently found out that you have one of the cancers above, you have the right to take legal action against the manufacturer of the AFFF you have been using. Not only will it help you recover compensation for your physical and emotional distress, but it will also hold the wrongdoers accountable for their actions, which will encourage more and more people to follow your example, as well as manufacturers to stop including these carcinogens in their products.
If you find yourself in this unpleasant situation, you should not hesitate to seek out the legal services of a specialized law firm. A lawyer who has vast experience and is highly knowledgeable in this area of practice will provide you with the legal assistance you need to file a claim against the AFFF manufacturer and obtain the financial compensation you deserve, which can vary between $100,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the severity of your diagnosis.
The documents you will be asked to present your attorney with are your employment records, as proof that you have been working with AFFF, and your medical records, as evidence of your cancer diagnosis. Most of the legal process will be handled by the law firm you choose to file your claim with, such as gathering additional proof, preparing the necessary documents and examining the connection between your disease and exposure to AFFF. Therefore, your involvement in the legal pursuit will be minimal.
However, before you decide to take legal action against the liable company, you should make sure you are eligible for recovering financial compensation, as law firms specializing in this area of practice usually pursue cases which involve certain diagnoses and occupations. For instance, in the situation you struggle with kidney cancer or testicular cancer as a consequence of working with AFFF as a firefighter, you qualify for filing a claim. Every law firm has specific eligibility requirements when it comes to pursuing AFFF cases, so we advise you to ensure you are able to recover compensation beforehand. Calling the law firm you chose is a very good idea, since their legal experts will know, after discussing your situation, whether you are eligible or not.
Finally, it is worthy of note that the majority of law firms which handle fire foam cancer cases work on a contingency fee. Consequently, you will not have to pay your attorney anything unless they recover financial compensation for you. Afterwards, your lawyer will keep a certain percentage of the sum of money they obtained from the defendant in exchange for their legal services and representation.
Occupations at High Risk of Developing Cancer Following AFFF Exposure
When it comes to the most prone demographic to receive a cancer diagnosis due to exposure to AFFF, firefighters are at highest risk, but airport and military firefighters – particularly those who work in the navy – have a great likelihood of developing it too, since they use the same foam to extinguish fire. Numerous veterans find themselves struggling with cancer after years of working with AFFF. Alarmingly, people who work in the military nowadays, be it in the navy or other military branches, such as the air force or the army, are still at risk of exposure to PFOS and PFOA, as there is currently no regulation in place for these two carcinogens in AFFF.
The Future of AFFF’s Use in the U.S. Military
Although there are no strong regulations on AFFF at the moment, the Pentagon and the Congress are currently working on solving the problem and hopefully banning the product once and for all. For instance, the U.S. Marine Corps are going to employ AFFF exclusively for emergency fire fighting, according to the new regulations, as non-toxic alternatives were found. Additionally, the U.S. Navy ceased using AFFF within their training and will also employ the product for extinguishing only class B fires, since they are to discover a fluorine-free fire fighting agent by the beginning of 2025. On the bright side, the AFFF is going to be entirely removed from military firefighters’ equipment by 2029.