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Product Liability

Firefighter foam lawsuit

Research has found evidence that links a common firefighting foam with the development of cancer in its users. Those that have been exposed to the dangerous chemicals by ingesting them orally, absorbing them through the skin, or inhaling them through the air are at risk of developing various types of cancer. If you are a veteran of a military base or a resident who lived near a military base and subsequently developed cancer from exposure to the firefighting foam, fill out our free case review to see if you are eligible for compensation without ever going to court.

Firefighting foam linked to cancer

In the early 1960s, the US Naval Research Laboratory conducted research on fire suppression that would ultimately lead to the development of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). AFFF, a synthetic foam with low viscosity, rapidly extinguishes hydrocarbon fuel fires by forming an aqueous film on the fuel surface that prevents evaporation and reignition of the fuel. The firefighting foam, due to its effectiveness, would eventually be used on all US Navy aircraft carriers as well as by major airports and civilian fire departments.

While effective as a fire suppressant, concerns have been raised regarding AFFF’s toxicity and potential negative effects on both the environment and human health. AFFF contains perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), substances that are a part of a large family of man-made chemical compounds used in a range of consumer products such as nonstick products, polishes, waxes, paints, and cleaning products.

Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are two PFAS found in AFFF with documented toxicity, and scientists warn about the accumulation of these compounds in wildlife and human blood. These compounds can be ingested orally, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled through exposure to the compounds in the air.

Because these compounds are extremely persistent in the environment, there have been several instances of water contamination near airports and military bases that have triggered drinking water shutdowns. Studies have further linked the chemicals to kidney and bladder cancer, as well as thyroid disease.

Due to these concerns, 3M, the largest manufacturer of PFOS, phased out production of the compound in 2002. Several countries eventually banned any new production of PFOS-based products, including the US, Japan, European Union, Canada, and Australia. The Department of Defense is currently conducting an investigation to determine the extent of PFAS contamination on its bases.

After nearly 60 years of use by U.S. military firefighters, countless military personal have been exposed to PFOS and PFAS through the use of AFFF on military bases and airports. The Department of Defense has identified at least 400 military sites that have been possibly contaminated with these toxic compounds. Due to a large number of military personnel affected and the failure to warn users of these potential risks, lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of the firefighting foam.

Although most people have been exposed to PFAS at low levels, individuals with higher exposure, including firefighters, military personnel, and residents living near military bases, are at a greater risk of PFAS-related health problems. Studies suggest that certain PFAS may be associated with:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Prostate cancer

In addition to the potential for these cancers to develop, PFAS may also be associated with:

  • Increased risk of thyroid disease
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of asthma
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Fertility issues and changes in fetal and child development
  • Changes in the immune system

If you are a veteran of a military base or resident who lived near a military base and developed cancer, you may be entitled to compensation without ever going to court. Fill out our free case review and we’ll help you determine if you have a claim, navigate the process, and maximize your potential compensation. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.