Who Can Be Harmed By The Fire Suppressant AFFF?
The core problem with AFFF consists in perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Originally produced by 3M, these compounds have been used in manufacturing all kinds of chemical products. However, they are well-known for being extremely persistent in the environment and likely dangerous to human health.
Affected individuals and families may have spent time in or around the following areas:
- Chemical plants
- Oil refineries, terminals, and bulk fuel storage farms
- Flammable liquid storage and processing facilities
- Firefighting training areas
- Aircraft crash sites
- Military airport hangars
Individuals at greatest risk of harm from AFFF are those who manufacture the foam, firefighters who use it and Air Force personnel who have direct chemical exposure. The U.S. military uses AFFF during firefighter training and during emergencies. In the case of equipment testing, various practices were used by the U.S. Navy and other branches of the military, since 1960.
Firefighting Foam and Groundwater Contamination
Within the context of AFFF-impacted sites, most concerns about PFASs arise due to the contamination of groundwater and municipal water supplies that may be used as drinking water. Recently, more than 40 classes of PFASs were identified in groundwater at essentially every AFFF-impacted site investigated. Consequently, direct ingestion of drinking water that is contaminated through direct AFFF runoff can also be an important exposure pathway, harming individuals even though they never had direct contact with the substance.
The pending lawsuits against 3M, Tyco Fire Products, Chemguard, Buckeye Fire Equipment, and National Foam, allege that AFFFs containing PFOS and PFAS contaminated groundwater at various military bases, airports and other sites where the foams were used, eventually causing a wide range of health risk, property damage and/or other economic losses.