Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits

Aqueous film forming foam lawsuits. In today’s article I am going to address Aqueous film forming foam, what it is, what it is used for, why it is so dangerous and the personal injuries resulting from its use, the companies that manufacture it and then finally the status of the product liability and personal injury Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits.

Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam Lawsuits
Aqueous Fire-Fighting Foam Lawsuits claim cancers and other serious diseases are linked to its use.

What is Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)?

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is a type of fire suppressant used to extinguish flammable liquid fires, including gasoline, oil, and other types of hydrocarbon-based fires. It is called “aqueous film forming” because it forms a barrier—a film of water—over the surface of the flammable liquid, which helps to cool the fire and prevent the vapor release that feeds the flames.

AFFF works by combining fluorochemical surfactants, hydrocarbon surfactants, and solvents. When mixed with water and aerated, these ingredients create a foam that can rapidly spread across the surface of flammable liquids. The foam blanket it forms is effective at cutting off the oxygen supply to the fire, suppressing the release of flammable vapors, and cooling the fuel surface, thereby extinguishing the fire.

One of the significant advantages of AFFF is its ability to rapidly cover large areas, making it particularly useful for firefighting in airports, oil refineries, and military facilities where fuel fires are a risk. However, concerns have been raised about the environmental and health impacts of some of the chemical components used in AFFF, particularly per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are persistent in the environment and have been linked to various health issues. This has led to increased regulation and research into alternatives that are less harmful but still effective for firefighting purposes.

What are the dangers with AFFF?

The dangers associated with AFFF primarily revolve around its environmental and health impacts, due to the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of industrial and consumer products for their water-repellent, grease-repellent, and non-stick properties. However, they are highly persistent in the environment and in human bodies, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” The concerns related to AFFF include:

  1. Environmental Contamination: PFAS can contaminate soil, water bodies, and groundwater. When AFFF is used for firefighting or training exercises, PFAS can leach into the surrounding environment, leading to widespread contamination. This is particularly concerning near airports, military bases, and industrial sites where AFFF has been used extensively.
  2. Health Risks: Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a variety of health problems. Studies have shown associations between PFAS exposure and increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and increased risk of certain cancers (e.g., testicular and kidney cancer). The persistence of PFAS in the human body means that even low-level exposures can accumulate over time, potentially leading to adverse health effects.
  3. Water Supply Contamination: PFAS from AFFF can contaminate drinking water supplies. This is a significant concern for communities living near facilities where AFFF has been used, as PFAS can enter the water cycle through runoff and infiltration into groundwater, which can be a source of drinking water.
  4. Wildlife Impact: PFAS accumulation is not limited to humans; it also affects wildlife. Animals exposed to PFAS can suffer from similar health issues as humans, including reproductive problems and changes in hormone levels. The bioaccumulation of PFAS in the food chain can have broader ecological impacts.
  5. Regulatory and Cleanup Challenges: The cleanup of PFAS contamination is complex and costly, partly because PFAS do not break down naturally in the environment. Additionally, regulatory standards for PFAS in the environment and drinking water are still being developed in many regions, complicating efforts to address contamination and protect public health.

In response to these concerns, there has been a push to find and use alternatives to AFFF that do not contain PFAS, alongside efforts to better manage and dispose of existing stocks of AFFF in a manner that minimizes environmental and health risks.

How does AFFF contaminant drinking water?

AFFF can contaminate drinking water through several pathways, primarily because of its use in firefighting and training exercises at airports, military bases, and industrial sites. The key component of concern in AFFF is PFAS, which are highly persistent in the environment and water-soluble, making them prone to migration into water sources. Here’s how contamination typically occurs:

  1. Groundwater Infiltration: When AFFF is used or tested, it can seep into the ground and infiltrate groundwater supplies. Since PFAS are highly soluble in water, they easily move with groundwater flows, potentially reaching wells and aquifers that serve as sources of drinking water for nearby communities.
  2. Surface Water Runoff: AFFF can also enter surface water bodies (such as rivers, lakes, and streams) through runoff. This can happen after firefighting efforts, from spills, or during training exercises where AFFF is used and not contained. Once in surface water, PFAS can travel long distances and may eventually be drawn into water treatment facilities that supply drinking water.
  3. Leaching from Soil: PFAS present in soils at sites where AFFF has been used can leach into groundwater over time. This process is facilitated by rainwater and snowmelt, which percolate through contaminated soil, picking up PFAS and carrying them into the groundwater system.
  4. Waste Disposal and Treatment Plant Effluent: Waste materials from sites where AFFF is used, including soils and waters that have been contaminated with PFAS, can end up in landfills or wastewater treatment plants. Traditional wastewater treatment processes are not designed to remove PFAS efficiently, so these chemicals can be released into the environment through treated effluent or leachate from landfills, further contaminating water sources.

The challenge with PFAS is their “forever chemicals” nickname, which underscores their resistance to degradation. Once PFAS contaminate a water source, they can remain there for a long time, posing risks to human health and the environment. Traditional water treatment processes are often inadequate for removing PFAS, requiring communities to invest in advanced treatment technologies, such as activated carbon filtration or reverse osmosis, to ensure safe drinking water. This contamination pathway underscores the importance of managing AFFF use and disposal carefully to minimize environmental and health risks.

What is PFAS in AFFF?

PFAS in AFFF are a group of man-made chemicals that are key ingredients contributing to the effectiveness of AFFF in extinguishing flammable liquid fires, such as those involving petroleum or hydrocarbons. PFAS have unique properties, including resistance to water, oil, temperature, and chemical reactions, which make them ideal for creating the film necessary to separate the fire from its fuel source and suppress vapor formation.

PFAS in AFFF include a variety of compounds, with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) being among the most studied and widely recognized. These substances help AFFF spread quickly across the surface of a flammable liquid, forming a barrier that cuts off the oxygen supply to the fire and cools the fuel surface, effectively extinguishing the fire.

However, the environmental and health concerns associated with PFAS have led to significant scrutiny and regulatory action. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in human and animal bodies over time. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to various health issues, including cancer, hormone disruption, liver damage, and immune system effects. As a result, there has been a push to develop PFAS-free alternatives to AFFF that maintain firefighting effectiveness without the associated environmental and health risks.

What health issues are seen with AFFF?

The health issues associated with AFFF primarily stem from its content of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances PFAS, which are persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the human body over time. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to:

  1. Cancer: There is evidence suggesting that exposure to PFAS can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly testicular and kidney cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified PFOA, one of the PFAS chemicals, as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
  2. Immune System Effects: PFAS exposure has been associated with immune system suppression. Studies have shown that it can reduce antibody responses to vaccines, making vaccines less effective in individuals with high levels of PFAS exposure.
  3. Developmental Effects: Prenatal exposure to PFAS has been linked to developmental delays in children, including lower birth weight, reduced hormone levels, and altered physical development.
  4. Reproductive Issues: PFAS exposure can affect fertility and reproductive health, potentially leading to decreased sperm quality, menstrual cycle disturbances, and reduced fertility rates.
  5. Thyroid Disease: There is evidence linking PFAS exposure to alterations in thyroid function, which can affect metabolism, energy levels, and overall hormonal balance.
  6. Liver Damage: PFAS can interfere with liver function and contribute to liver damage, indicated by increased levels of liver enzymes in exposed individuals.
  7. Cholesterol Levels: Exposure to certain PFAS has been associated with increased cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  8. Increased Risk of Hypertension and Pre-eclampsia: Pregnant women exposed to PFAS may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system.

It’s important to note that health effects can vary based on the level and duration of exposure, as well as individual susceptibility. Due to the widespread use and persistence of PFAS, exposure is a concern for the general population, but particularly for individuals who live near areas where AFFF has been used extensively, such as military bases, airports, and industrial sites. The growing awareness of these health risks has prompted efforts to limit exposure to PFAS and to develop safer alternatives to AFFF.

What is the status of Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits?

Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits related to AFFF primarily focus on the environmental contamination and health impacts associated with its use, particularly due to the presence of PFAS.

As of February 2024, nearly 7,800 AFFF foam cancer lawsuits have been filed throughout the federal court system, including firefighter cancer lawsuits and water contamination lawsuits being pursued against manufacturers of the firefighting foam.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel is presiding over all pretrial proceedings in the District of South Carolina, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

The first firefighting foam bellwether trial was expected to begin in mid-2023, involving claims brought by a local water supplier. However, the case was continued amid continuing settlement negotiations.

These Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits can be categorized into several main groups:

  1. Environmental Contamination Lawsuits: These lawsuits are typically filed by governmental entities, water utilities, and environmental organizations. They seek damages for the contamination of water supplies, soil, and ecosystems, aiming to recover the costs of cleanup, water treatment, and environmental restoration. Plaintiffs argue that the manufacturers of AFFF knew or should have known about the risks associated with PFAS but failed to warn users or take steps to mitigate harm.
  2. Personal Injury Claims: Individuals exposed to PFAS through AFFF and who have suffered health effects, such as cancer, thyroid disease, and other illnesses linked to PFAS exposure, have filed personal injury lawsuits. These claims often argue that the exposure to PFAS from AFFF resulted in their conditions, seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  3. Class Action Lawsuits: Class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of groups of individuals similarly affected by PFAS contamination from AFFF. These lawsuits might combine claims related to health impacts, property damage, and loss of property value due to contamination. Class actions allow for the collective pursuit of claims that might be impractical for individuals to litigate separately.
  4. Firefighter Lawsuits: Firefighters, who are among the most heavily exposed to AFFF during training and firefighting operations, have filed lawsuits alleging that their prolonged exposure to PFAS-containing foams has led to various health issues, including cancer. These lawsuits often claim that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risks of PFAS exposure or provide instructions for safe handling.
  5. Military and Airport Personnel Lawsuits: Similar to firefighters, military and airport personnel exposed to AFFF in their line of work have also initiated legal actions, citing health concerns and insufficient warnings about the dangers of PFAS.

Manufacturers and suppliers of AFFF are the typical defendants in these lawsuits, facing allegations of negligence, failure to warn, and, in some cases, deliberate concealment of the risks associated with PFAS. The legal landscape around AFFF is complex and evolving, with significant litigation ongoing in various jurisdictions. Some cases have led to settlements, while others continue to work their way through the courts, reflecting the broad and significant impact of PFAS contamination and the challenges of addressing it.

Who makes AFFF?

AFFF is produced by several manufacturers around the world, with some of the most notable companies historically involved in its production including:

  1. 3M Company: 3M was one of the original developers and manufacturers of AFFF containing PFAS, particularly PFOS. The company announced in 2000 that it would phase out the production of PFOS-based AFFF due to environmental and health concerns related to PFAS chemicals.
  2. DuPont (now part of Chemours): DuPont has been involved in the production of chemicals used in AFFF, including PFOA. Chemours, a company spun off from DuPont, has also been associated with the production and development of fluorochemicals used in firefighting foams.
  3. Tyco Fire Products (part of Johnson Controls): Tyco has manufactured AFFF used in various firefighting contexts, including military and civilian applications.
  4. Kidde-Fenwal (part of Carrier Global Corporation): Kidde-Fenwal produces firefighting products, including AFFF formulations for different firefighting needs.
  5. Angus Fire: Angus Fire is a UK-based company that produces a range of firefighting foams, including AFFF, for use in emergency response and industrial applications.
  6. National Foam: National Foam is a well-known manufacturer of firefighting foams, including AFFF, catering to various industries and emergency services.

These companies, among others, have been involved in the development, production, and distribution of AFFF.

Developed Cancer from AFFF?

If you or a loved one worked as a firefighter, military personnel, airport worker, and were exposed to the firefighting foam chemicals and developed any of the following serious medical diseases and cancers, Testicular Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Breast Cancer, Liver Cancer, Bladder Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Disease (Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism), Graves Disease, Hashimoto’s Disease then the Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm is here to help file Aqueous Film Forming Foam Lawsuits.

You can speak with one of our representatives by calling 214-390-3189, or by filling out the case evaluation form on this page.

Our law firm’s principal office is in Dallas and we have offices in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm represents clients in dangerous drug and dangerous medical device lawsuits nationwide.


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