AFFF’s Impact on People & Communities
Firefighting foam containing toxic PFAS substances has caused widespread environmental pollution. These toxic chemicals have taken a toll on the US population. In June 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found no safe level for two specific PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – in drinking water. Yet extensive use of AFFF continues to contaminate the soil and groundwater in dozens of military bases and countless communities throughout the US.
For decades, civilian airports, military bases, offshore operations, and fire departments throughout the US have relied on AFFF-containing PFAS to extinguish liquid fuel fires. In these areas, higher amounts of PFAS chemicals are found in the water supply.
What Are PFAS Chemicals?
PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, are a family of human-made chemicals. They were once valued for their ability (unique properties) to repel oil and water. PFAS are also durable – nearly indestructible. These desirable qualities benefit many products, including Teflon-coated (nonstick) cookware, carpeting and fabric.
Now, PFAS chemicals are at the core of an alarming environmental disaster and a human health crisis. They have come to be known as “forever chemicals” because their strong fluorine-carbon bonds keep them from decaying over time. They remain in water and soil when released. If consumed or absorbed by humans, the chemicals are stored – they do not leave the body for many years.
Why are PFAS in firefighting foam?
PFAS-containing firefighting foam, or AFFF, is highly effective in fighting the most dangerous and difficult fires, such as those caused by liquid fuels – jet fuel, gas tanks, oil tankers, and offshore platforms, to name a few. Yet, after being used to put out fires, the toxic foam seeps into the ground, tainting the water used by surrounding communities and cities for drinking water.
To make the water safe for people to drink, cities and municipalities with high levels of PFAS chemicals must use a different and more costly way of filtering the water than most local water treatment facilities. Many communities affected by PFAS contamination cannot afford these upgrades. It would be unfair to pass those costs on to consumers instead of companies profiting billions of dollars from manufacturing PFAS.
Risks PFAS Chemicals/AFFF Poses
Widespread use of PFAS chemicals has left 99% of the human population with some level of PFAS in their bloodstream. Even small amounts of PFAS in the body can have serious health implications, including liver damage, cancer, low birth weight and decreased fertility, among other health risks.
Limited Steps to End the Use of AFFF
Commercial use of PFAS substances has declined in the last couple of decades. Still, the chemicals continue to be used in firefighting foam, virtually guaranteeing that humans throughout the US will continue to ingest them. Even in the earth’s most remote locations, PFAS levels in rainwater exceed the current EPA limit for drinking water.
The US Department of Defense plans to stop purchasing PFAS firefighting foam by the end of 2023. The department will phase out AFFF entirely by 2024. Several states have passed laws limiting or banning the use of PFAS in firefighting foam. Still, AFFF firefighting foam continues to be widely used despite the known risks. The federal government only regulates how PFAS chemicals are made, brought into the country and their disposal. It doesn’t control the chemicals’ commercial use.
About AFFF-Related Personal Injury Lawsuits
Lawsuits filed by plaintiffs claiming to be harmed by PFAS chemicals have been consolidated in a South Carolina federal court for multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL has two tracts. One tract involves water utilities that allege AFFF firefighting foam has contaminated their water sources. The second tract includes personal injury cases brought by people who allege their illnesses result from PFAS exposure through contaminated drinking water or occupational exposure.
Personal injury plaintiffs seek damages for cancer and other serious health problems stemming from exposure to PFAS-contaminated water. Individual injury cases against firefighting foam manufacturers and other defendants grow daily.
Should I File a Firefighting Foam Claim?
If you believe you or a family member has suffered from exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, please contact our AFFF/firefighting foam lawyers today for a free evaluation of your claim. Initial trials for these cases are already underway, so don’t delay.