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How can AFFF exposure affect my health?

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.

answered by Gregory A. Cade

There are two groups of toxic chemicals present in AFFF, exposure to which can lead to terrible diseases

Aqueous film-forming foam, commonly known as AFFF, has been used since 1970 to extinguish petroleum and jet fuel fires. While it is very effective, it contains two groups of chemicals which are known carcinogens, namely PFOS and PFOA.

Thereby, prolonged exposure to AFFF can result in the development of serious diseases. PFOS, scientifically known as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, is a chemical which persists in the environment once released, polluting the soil, and air, whereas PFOA, scientifically known as perfluorooctanoic acid, is also very persistent in the environment and poses a great danger to human life if exposure occurs over the course of several years.

However, PFOS and PFOA are not present only in AFFF, as they can also be found in food packaging, dust, non-stick cookware, and metal plating. Nevertheless, PFOS and PFOA are present in large amounts in AFFF, which is the main culprit behind various forms of cancer.

Exposure to the PFOS and PFOA in AFFF can lead to multiple cancers over the years

Contrary to popular belief, aqueous film-forming foam is not dangerous in and of itself, as it is the two groups of chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, in it which can endanger the health of a person. Unfortunately, because it contains these two groups of toxic agents, exposure to AFFF is dangerous and can lead to the development of multiple cancers over the course of several years, including:

However, these are not the only diseases exposure to PFOS and PFOA has been linked to. In addition to various forms of cancer, exposure to PFOS and PFOA can also cause the following diseases and conditions:

  • ulcerative colitis
  • lupus
  • thyroid disease
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • cardiovascular disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • asthma
  • COPD
  • infectious disease
  • neurological disease
  • miscarriage
  • osteoarthritis
  • Crohn’s disease

Nevertheless, it is important to note that you qualify for compensation only if you developed one of the diseases in the first list, as a definitive causal relation between those diseases and exposure to PFOS and PFOA was found. Thereby, if you came to struggle with a form of cancer as a result of exposure to AFFF as a civilian or military firefighter, you are eligible for compensation from the companies which manufactured the product you were exposed to. It is worthy of note that it takes several years of exposure to PFOS and PFOA to develop a form of cancer and solid evidence of your exposure must exist in order to recover the compensation you deserve.

Legal assistance for the victims of AFFF exposure

Our attorneys, who specialize in pursuing compensation for the victims of toxic exposure, will provide you with quality legal assistance if you are a firefighter or a person who serves in the military and developed a form of cancer as a consequence of exposure to AFFF.

After you thoroughly explain your situation to our legal team, our experienced attorneys will promptly begin working on your case, while our legal experts will gather additional evidence to support it.

Your involvement in the legal process will be minimal, as you will only have to grant our legal team access to your employment or military records, as well as to your medical records, which need to state that your disease is the result of exposure to PFOS and PFOA. Eventually, you will recover the compensation you deserve for your injury. It is worthy of note that, unless we obtain compensation for you, you do not have to pay us anything, as we work on a contingency fee basis.

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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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.

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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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