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If you, or a loved one, have worked as a firefighter and have developed cancer which may be linked to the materials used in firefighting, our firefighting foam attorney will help you file a lawsuit to obtain compensation.
It has now been discovered that certain fire-fighting chemicals are linked to cancer. These materials are found in a common firefighting material commonly known as firefighting foam. The chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds that have been used in firefighting foam for over 50 years.
Lawsuits have already been filed against manufacturers of these materials alleging that the manufacturers knew about the health danger of the foam, but did not reveal this information, allowing firefighters to be exposed to the carcinogenic properties of PFAS over a long period.
How firefighting foam works
Not all firefighters regularly use firefighting foam or materials that contain PFAS. The material is particularly useful when fighting fires that are started by or caused by the combustion of petrochemical products, like gasoline, diesel and jet engine fuel. The foam is more correctly known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). The PFAS chemicals resist both water and oils, which is the main property that has led to their widespread use in foams. When sprayed on to certain types of fire, it acts as a blanket over the fire, starving it of the oxygen needed for combustion.
AFFF type foam has been particularly in use at U.S. airports, both military and commercial, as well as at military sites where there may be stores of petrochemical products. Firefighters who have worked at airports, or in any branch of the U.S. military, are particularly at risk of exposure to PFAS chemicals because of the regular use of AFFF type foams when fighting fires.
Use of AFFF type foam has not been restricted by the military to real live fires, as it has been used in training exercises as well. It is thought that this additional exposure is part of the long term effect of PFAS chemicals on these firefighters. Different sections of the military, including the U.S. Navy, have now discontinued the use of AFFF foams because of the danger to health.
How it is thought that PFAS causes cancer
Several federal agencies and cancer foundations have been warning about the carcinogenic properties of PFAS chemicals. These include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Like many types of cancer causation, it is thought that long term development in the human body. The chemicals do not biodegrade and cannot be easily eliminated by normal human metabolic processes. That means that they tend to accumulate in the body. As the amount of PFAS in the body increases, its carcinogenic properties have a more direct effect on various internal organs.
Cancers that have been alleged to have been caused by PFAS chemical exposure include:
- pancreatic cancer;
- kidney cancer;
- bladder cancer;
- neuroendocrine tumors;
- testicular cancer.
PFAS in U.S. drinking water
The danger of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam is not the only health risk they pose. For years now, it has been realized that the breakdown of many consumer items manufactured with PFAS chemicals can contaminate U.S. drinking water. It has been estimated that 110 million Americans may have some level of PFAS in their bodies. The very stability of PFAS chemicals and their ability to repel both water and oil has made the very suitable for a wide number of modern products such as non stick cooking equipment and plates. Other products that have used PFAS in their manufacture include carpets, cleaning products, clothing, food packaging, paints, polishes and waxes, in addition to firefighting foam.
Paradoxically, the ‘forever’ nature of PFAS means that long term exposure to high environmental levels of PFAS can mean a suite of health problems similar to those experienced by firefighters.
The amount of PFAS contamination in U.S. drinking water is not uniform and there is wide disparity between some places like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia with relatively high levels and Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama that have minimal levels.
Talk to our firefighting foam attorney about filing a lawsuit
Where it can be proven that manufacturers of PFAS chemicals have known about their potential carcinogenic properties for many years without providing warnings and advice about their use, there is the potential for lawsuits against them. Cancer treatment in particular is extremely expensive. A successful lawsuit could force manufacturers to compensate the sick person for the full cost of medical treatment, future medical treatment, lost earnings and an amount for the pain and suffering involved.
Have you, or a member of your family, been, or are a firefighter, and have developed any type of cancer or other life threatening or serious illness which may have been caused by exposure to the PFAS in firefighting foam? If so, you should talk to one of our experienced firefighting foam attorneys to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the manufacturers of PFAS.