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For how long do you have to be exposed to AFFF to develop cancer?

Although the PFOS and PFOA in AFFF can be harmful to the human body in any amount, exposure needs to occur for several years for a person to develop cancer.

answered by Gregory A. Cade

While no amount of PFOS and PFOA is safe for the human body, you must have been exposed to AFFF for several years for a disease to develop

While AFFF is not dangerous in and of itself, it is the two groups of chemicals in it, namely PFOS and PFOA, which are highly toxic to our health. Thereby, exposure to AFFF can lead to various forms of cancer over the course of several years. It usually takes a few years from the first exposure for a disease to develop. The risk of developing cancer also depends on the amount of PFOS and PFOA you are exposed to, in addition to the duration of the exposure.

Furthermore, you have more chances to develop a disease if you are occupationally exposed to AFFF, as opposed to environmental exposure. For this reason, firefighters and military personnel who regularly use AFFF have the highest risk of cancer as a result of exposure to PFOS and PFOA.

Previous studies have shown PFAS chemicals primarily settle into the blood, kidney and liver

Studies in humans suggest that even very low levels of PFAS exposure may not be completely safe for human health. Ongoing exposure to low levels of PFAS can lead to concentrations in the body high enough to potentially increase the risk for many serious diseases and health conditions.

Research has found evidence that links aqueous film-forming foams with the development of cancer in its users. Those that have been exposed to the dangerous chemicals by ingesting them orally, absorbing them through the skin, or inhaling them through the air are at risk of developing various types of cancer.

Cancers associated with exposure to the allegedly noxious substances in firefighting foam include:

Firefighters have a much higher risk of developing cancer as a result of constant exposure to firefighting foam

The greatest risk for cancer caused by firefighting foam is to those who have been exposed for a long period of time, especially without understanding the risk. Those most commonly exposed to AFFF are:

  • commercial and voluntary firefighters
  • military firefighters
  • airport firefighters
  • residents living near a fire department, military base, or airport

Of course, firefighters have the highest risk of experiencing health issues because of the increased exposure to AFFF during training and while fighting fires in real-world scenarios. Certain airport workers and military personnel are also commonly exposed to AFFF because of the need to fight fuel-based fires on the job. The final group most commonly exposed includes oil and gas workers which might be exposed to the carcinogens when a fire breaks out at the workplace and firefighting foam is needed.

Quality legal assistance for people who were exposed to AFFF on the job

If you are a firefighter or a member of the military who was exposed to AFFF and subsequently developed a form of cancer, you should know that you have the legal right to seek compensation from the company responsible for your injury.

With over 25 years of experience in providing legal assistance to victims of toxic exposure and their family members, our attorneys will help you recover the compensation you deserve.

After carefully assessing your case, they will file a lawsuit against the company which manufactured the AFFF you were exposed to, which will be accompanied by solid evidence of your exposure and of your related diagnosis, such as your employment records and your medical records.

If more than one company is liable for your diagnosis, our lawyers will file a lawsuit against all the responsible parties to obtain the maximum compensation you are eligible for. It is important to keep in mind that we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay our law firm anything unless we recover compensation for you.

Other related questions

The widespread public exposure to dangerous levels of PFAS chemicals has prompted the EPA’s release of a PFAS “Action Plan” in February 2019. The plan focused almost exclusively on the perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) the main precursors in AFFF.

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A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed with the help of a specialized attorney by the surviving family members of a victim of AFFF exposure.

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Disability compensation for exposure to AFFF is available only for firefighters who served in the military. However, civilian firefighters can also recover compensation by filing a lawsuit against the company which manufactured the product.

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If you were exposed to AFFF by living in close proximity to a military base, which used the product, you do not qualify for compensation, as only firefighters and military personnel can take legal action.

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Exposure to PFOS and PFOA, the toxic chemicals in AFFF, can lead to the development of multiple serious diseases over the years, including kidney cancer and bladder cancer.

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The most accurate method to determine whether you have been exposed to chemicals is environmental monitoring, which is done by measuring the concentration of a chemical in the air and the duration of exposure to it.

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AFFF has been used for the last 50 years to extinguish class B fires by both civilian and military firefighters, as it is very effective. However, it contains PFOS and PFOA, two groups of dangerous chemicals.

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The duration of the legal process in cases of AFFF exposure can range between several months to one year, depending on how many companies are responsible for your exposure, as well as on the severity of your diagnosis.

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There are over 1.1 million volunteer and career firefighters throughout the country, out of which approximately 20% develop cancer as a result of AFFF exposure.

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Factors affecting compensation depend on the severity and circumstances of the exposure. Diagnosis of the condition associated with AFFF exposure is one of the primary factors used to start the case.

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