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Recent reports show that certain chemicals used in firefighting foam have been linked to cancer. Firefighting foam contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are man-made chemical compounds that can accumulate in the human body over time. PFAS can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. Prolonged exposure to PFAS could lead to thyroid disease and cancer.
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been used by firefighters since the 1950s because it is highly effective at extinguishing fires. AFFF smothers the fire by creating a foam blanket that cuts off the fire’s oxygen supply. While AFFF can be lifesaving when putting out fires, it can be dangerous to humans. Numerous health organizations have established a link between cancer and AFFF.
While all firefighters who have been exposed to AFFF are at risk, airport firefighters and U.S. military firefighters are considered high risk. The Federal Airport Administration called for airport firefighters to use PFAS-based foam until 2018, which followed guidelines set by the U.S. Navy. Upon learning the risks of PFAS-based foams, the U.S. military began phasing out the use of AFFF. Until all PFAS-based foams are phased out, firefighters should follow safety protocols, including:
One of the largest concerns with AFFF is that it can leak into water supplies if not properly contained. This foam ends up in groundwater when it soaks into the soil after being sprayed on a fire. A chemical spill response should be deployed after the foam is released to help ensure that the chemicals do not contaminate water supplies. Individuals who live close to fire departments, airports, or military bases could also be at risk of exposure due to water contamination.
If you were exposed to firefighting foam and were later diagnosed with cancer or thyroid disease, you may be entitled to compensation. The firefighting foam manufacturers, sellers, and/or your employer could be held liable for exposing you to these dangerous chemicals. We can walk you through your legal options and offer support during this stressful time, so contact an attorney at our firm today.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law