Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has become the subject of legal action in the form of mini-tort lawsuits. AFFF is a firefighting foam used to suppress flammable liquid fires, known for its ability to extinguish and prevent the reignition of such fires.
However, the foam’s potential dangers, particularly environmental and health risks, have led individuals and communities to seek legal recourse. These lawsuits typically involve personal injury claims and adverse health effects associated with PFAS exposure. Read on to learn more about what this means for workers and others in Indiana and across the country.
What is AFFF Foam?
Aqueous film-forming foam, better known as AFFF, is used by civilian and military firefighters to rapidly extinguish fuel-based fires. AFFF’s effectiveness comes from its unique properties, which allow it to spread across the surface of a fire, cutting off the oxygen supply and suppressing the flames quickly. This ability has made it a firefighting staple at airports, oil refineries, and military bases.
Potential Dangers of AFFF Foam
The primary worry lies in its chemical composition, specifically the inclusion of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl compounds, known as PFAS. These compounds have been nicknamed “forever chemicals” due to their resistance to degradation, meaning they can remain in the environment and the human body for many years after exposure.
Over time, these PFAS chemicals can accumulate in the body, leading to various health concerns. Research has linked exposure to PFAS chemicals to numerous serious and even fatal health problems:
- Developmental issues in children and infants: PFAS can interfere with the body’s natural growth and developmental processes, particularly in children and infants. This interference can lead to changes in behavior, learning difficulties, and decreased fertility.
- Immune system disorders: One of the more subtle effects of PFAS exposure is its impact on the immune system. Studies have shown that these chemicals can disrupt immune function, making the body more susceptible to infections and diseases. There is also growing concern that PFAS may reduce the effectiveness of certain vaccines.
- Thyroid disruption: The thyroid gland, which plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism, is another potential target of PFAS. Disruption of thyroid function can lead to problems such as weight gain, fatigue, and depression.
- Cancer: Perhaps most alarming is the potential link between PFAS exposure and cancer. Studies suggest these chemicals may increase the risk of prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer. A 2022 study found that PFAS showed a higher risk of mitosis in melanoma patients, while a 2021 review found evidence that PFAS are associated with kidney and testicular cancer and, to a lesser extent, prostate cancer.
- Other health concerns: Other potential health effects include liver damage, changes in cholesterol levels, increased risk of high blood pressure in some pregnant women, and changes to the body’s natural hormones.
Given the broad range of potential health issues linked to PFAS, it is crucial for those exposed to AFFF foam to monitor their health closely and consult a healthcare professional if they experience any unusual symptoms. It’s equally essential for anyone impacted by these potential risks to understand their legal rights and the avenues available for seeking justice and compensation.
Emerging Lawsuits Resulting from AFFF Foam Use
As awareness of these risks has increased, so have the number of lawsuits filed by those exposed to AFFF foam. Across the United States, individuals and communities who have suffered the consequences of PFAS contamination are seeking justice.
A firefighting foam cancer lawsuit targets manufacturers of AFFF, alleging that these companies knew about the risks associated with PFAS but failed to warn users adequately. Several cases are underway, with a major bellwether trial taking place in Florida in June of 2023. The final ruling in the City of Stuart v. 3M Co. et al. will set a precedent for future litigation for victims of negligent AFFF foam manufacturers.
If you believe your health issues, including cancer diagnosis, are directly linked to PFAS exposure from AFFF foam, speak to a product liability lawyer at Wagner Reese. As an Indiana-based law firm, we’re on the frontlines providing legal assistance to affected victims and advocating for their rights.
Explore Your Legal Options After Suffering AFFF Foam Damages
If you or someone close to you has been affected by AFFF foam, you have legal options. Product liability laws in Indiana allow you to seek compensation for damages caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In the case of AFFF foam, this could involve manufacturers who failed to provide adequate warning of the dangers associated with its use.
We encourage you to reach out to Wagner Reese if you have been affected by the side effects of AFFF foam. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to handle AFFF foam-related lawsuits. We’ll guide you through the entire process, clarify your rights and options, and work diligently to ensure you get the justice you deserve.