Firefighting Foam and Cancer

A growing number of municipalities, water providers, farmers, business owners and land owners are learning about a threat they likely never would have considered: aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), better known as firefighting foam. This toxic flame retardant is used regularly and frequently at airports, on military installations, and at fire training facilities, ultimately ending up in nearby water supplies.

What is AFFF?

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) has been used in the United States in both military and civilian firefighting since the 1970s. These foams suppress flammable liquid fires, including those involving gasoline or other fuels, by forming a barrier between the air and flammable vapors, effectively suffocating the flames.

Firefighters in both military and civilian ranks train with AFFF regularly. In addition, firefighters at airports are required by the FAA to regularly train using AFFF.

Frazer Onder environmental lawyers represent firefighters, land owners, municipalities, airport authorities, and agricultural operations that are significantly harmed physically and/or financially by AFFF-related PFAS contamination.

Who Makes Firefighting Foam?

Until the mid-1990s, 3M was the primary manufacturer of AFFF. Now there are several companies that manufacture the chemicals. In the early 2000s, after reports of cancer, some manufacturers began to phase in a replacement foam, but we believe the replacement foam causes similar problems.

What are the Dangers of AFFF?

AFFF contains toxic chemicals called PFAS, PFOS, and PFOA, commonly classified as “forever chemicals” because they decompose very slowly and bioaccumulate in the bodies of humans and other animals. Not only are these dangerous to the environment, but they also have been strongly linked to cancers. Military and civilian firefighters who are exposed to these foams over time have significantly increased cancer risks.

In addition, water suppliers, agricultural operations, airport authorities, and land owners often face tremendous costs to mitigate contamination caused by runoff of this toxic foam. It seeps into surrounding land and eventually makes its way into wells and groundwater supplies. AFFF taints nearly everything it touches, ruining crops and other agricultural commodities, tainting water supplies, and polluting land and waterways. It is extremely costly to remove.

What Types of Cancer are Linked to AFFF?

Kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer have all been linked to firefighting foam. Studies also indicate that firefighters face increased risk for these cancers. However, those drinking water and eating food contaminated by AFFF runoff are also at risk.

Why AFFF Lawsuits?

3M and other companies have known about the link between AFFF and cancers for decades, yet they did not warn the public. They also knew that firefighters would face a substantially increased risk due to their frequent exposure to AFFF, yet they did nothing to inform them or help minimize the risk. It could also be argued that, instead of continuing to profit from a product that is known to cause cancer, 3M and other manufacturers could have developed a safer alternative. Instead, it was business as usual – until people began using the legal system to hold them accountable.

In addition to a federal MDL established for firefighter claims, municipalities, tribal governments, land owners, business owners, and agricultural operations are now taking 3M and other corporations that manufacture AFFF to court to hold them accountable for financial damages. These include the cost of removal, loss of commodities, cost of testing, and other significant expenses related to PFAS pollution.

The Frazer Onder legal team is representing those who have endured significant physical or financial harm due to PFAS contaminants in firefighting foam. Call us at 800-881-0939 today!