Firefighting Foam

We are investigating personal injury cases where people have been exposed to firefighting foam containing highly toxic PFAS chemicals. The product is Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which is linked to cancer and other health risks.

What is Firefighting Foam?

Firefighting foam is used for fire suppression. Its role is to cool the fire and coat the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen and thus achieving suppression of the combustion.

Firefighting foam contains PFAS, Per and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. 

For decades, civilian airports, military bases, offshore operations, and fire departments across the US have relied on AFFF that contains PFAS to extinguish liquid fuel fires. This has led to higher amounts of PFAS chemicals being found in the water supply in these areas.

In June 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that there is no safe level for two specific PFAS chemicals, namely PFOA and PFOS, in drinking water. AFFF has contaminated the soil and groundwater on numerous military bases and in countless communities throughout the US.

What Are PFAS Chemicals?

PFAS chemicals, also known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of human-made chemicals that have been widely used in various consumer and industrial products due to their unique properties.   

Some common products that may contain PFAS include: 

  • Teflon-coated (nonstick) cookware 
  • Stain-resistant carpets and upholstery 
  • Water-resistant clothing and outdoor gear
  • Food packaging, such as pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags 
  • Firefighting foam used at airports and military bases 

Not all products containing PFAS are labeled as such, so it can be difficult to know if they have these chemicals. 

Risks PFAS Chemicals/AFFF Poses

These chemicals are persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the human body over time. Studies have linked exposure to PFAS to a range of health effects, including cancer, thyroid disease, and developmental problems. As a result, there is growing concern about the potential risks associated with these chemicals, and efforts are underway to reduce their use and exposure.

The widespread use of PFAS chemicals has resulted in 99% of the human population having some level of PFAS in their bloodstream. Even small amounts of PFAS in the body can lead to serious health implications, such as liver damage, cancer, low birth weight and decreased fertility, among other health risks.

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 ensure that the water is safe for human consumption, cities and municipalities that have high levels of PFAS chemicals need to use a more expensive method of water treatment than most local water treatment facilities. Unfortunately, many communities affected by the PFAS contamination cannot afford these upgrades. It would be unfair to transfer these costs to consumers instead of the companies that make billions of dollars from manufacturing PFAS.

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.

In 2023, the US Department of Defense announced plans to stop purchasing PFAS firefighting foam. 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.

Should I File a Firefighting Foam Claim?

If you or a family member suffered from AFFF firefighting foam exposure, you may have a personal injury case. Lawsuits related to PFAS chemicals and firefighting foam have been consolidated in a South Carolina federal court for multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL includes personal injury cases brought by people who allege their illnesses result from PFAS exposure through contaminated drinking water or occupational exposure, seeking damages for cancer and other serious health problems caused by exposure to PFAS-contaminated water.

Individual injury cases against firefighting foam manufacturers and other defendants are growing daily. If you think you may have a case, contact Beasley today for a free evaluation of your claim. Initial trials for these cases are already underway, so don’t delay.

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