The job of a firefighter is hazardous enough and the dangers extend beyond what everyone sees and thinks. While these professionals have to risk their lives to extinguish fires and get people out of dangerous situations, there are more perils they have to deal with as well. One of these is the use of firefighting foam, the fire suppressant which is high in the cancer-causing PFAS chemicals. If you are a firefighting professional, being aware about the hidden dangers of these chemicals should be your prime concern. And you should also know about your rights if you happen to get exposed. Let us highlight some key facts for you.
The lurking danger of firefighting foam
AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam), which is commonly known as firefighting foam, is a fire suppressant that firefighters in the US have been using for decades. The foam coats fuel and prevents its contact with oxygen, which keeps it from combusting. It was invented for suppressing oil fires, such as those involving gasoline and jet fuels, the traditional water-based methods do not work for them. Although AFFF is life saving, it poses some serious health risks that can impact the firefighting professionals in the long run. It contains PFAS class (per- and polyfluoroalkyls) chemicals, the carcinogenic substances which stay in the human system for a prolonged time and can cause various types of cancers. Some of the cancer risks associated with PFAS includes:
- Kidney cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Liver cancer
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Other lymphomas
AFFF-related cancer risk in firefighters
Knowing the risk factors of AFFF, it becomes a potential danger for military and civilian firefighting professionals. Apart from them, military personnel, airport workers, and property owners exposed to the foam are also at risk. But typically, the risk factor for a firefighter exposed to aqueous film-forming foams is significantly higher and the evidence is growing. This is because of the continuous and prolonged exposure that leads to high concentrations of PFAS chemicals in their blood. Military personnel and airport workers encounter risk because AFFF is used for training purposes. But the most unfortunate cases are those of the property owners adjacent to military bases and airports where PFAS-based AFFF is used. They get exposed passively, through the perfluorinated surfactants that penetrate and reach the groundwater and surface water supplies.
Legal recourse for people diagnosed with cancer caused by AFFF
Exposure to AFFF can cause cancer but fortunately, people who are diagnosed with such a condition have a legal recourse to protect their rights. And this applies not only to the firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers who are exposed directly but also to the property owners and residents who suffer because of exposure to PFAS-contaminated water in long term. If you get a diagnosis of cancer, you can file an AFFF cancer lawsuit against the foam manufacturers. You can rightfully claim financial compensation for the injuries because manufacturers are obligated to warn the users about the potential risks of cancer with the exposure to the chemicals present in their product.
If you want to file such a lawsuit, it is best to have an experienced firefighting foam lawyer to handle the case. With the right kind of expertise and experience, they know what all needs to be done to get justice for their client.