AFFF is a foam product produced by many corporations which has been in use since the 1960’s to fight fuel fires in municipal fire districts as well as military installations. Chemicals contained in the foam called PFAS have since been discovered to be toxic and carcinogenic to humans, and the various health risks including many types of cancer have been well documented. Many manufacturers were made aware of the risks to humans dating back almost as early as the product’s release, which were never conveyed to the public or the users of the product. Firefighters who have been using the foam and have repeatedly been exposed to PFAS have a significant risk of developing health problems and litigation is underway to pursue justice for the victims. Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine has extensive experience in mass tort litigation and ultimately taking individual cases to trial with successful outcomes. Contact us now for a free consultation and evaluation of your case (888) 488-9616.
What is AFFF?
AFFF is an acronym for “Aqueous Film Forming Foam”, which is a fire extinguishing foam which is typically used for fires burning from flammable liquids, such as gas or other fuel (Class “B”) fires. AFFF is very effective at extinguishing fuel fires because the chemical composition of it is such that it creates tightly bonded molecules that are very effective at restricting heat and oxygen. AFFF works because the foam coating can withstand the heat from an active fuel fire underneath it and effectively separate the fire and fuel from the necessary oxygen which it would need for the fire to continue burning.
Where is AFFF used?
AFFF started being widely used in the 1960’s to control fires and later became widely used on military bases in the 1970’s. Since then, military and civilian firefighters have used the foam extensively to extinguish fires in the field as well as during routine training. AFFF has been used by firefighters and is available to them as they work in the field via tanks on fire trucks, however, AFFF is also used in fire suppression systems for sites that are at a high risk for fuel fires, such as airplane hangars.
What Makes AFFF dangerous?
AFFF is manufactured with chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are toxic and carcinogenic. PFAS are an extremely stable chemical structure, which means it doesn’t break down naturally as do most chemicals, and thus it is often referred to as a “forever chemical”. Although, PFAS have been classified as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans, AFFF lawsuits have revealed that companies who manufacture the product had access to research going all the way back into the 1960’s that people exposed to AFFF and the PFAS it contains were at significant risk of certain cancers and adverse health effects. PFAS have been shown to:
- Cause developmental effects in infants
- Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- Increase a woman’s blood pressure during pregnancy
- Lower infant birth weights
- Interfere with the body’s natural hormones
- Increase cholesterol levels
- Affect the immune system
- Increase the risk of cancer including: bladder, breast, colorectal, liver, leukemia, lymphoma, pancreatic, prostate, kidney, testicular and thyroid cancers
Manufacturer Warnings About AFFF and PFAS
The manufacturers of AFFF products often included warnings on the label such as washing hands if exposed via the skin, and to contact poison control if any of the substance enters the eyes. However, the manufacturers never warned of the dangers of long term exposure and the dangers of cancer and other health effects when used in the normal course of firefighting. The dangers of PFAS and its presence in AFFF have led to its use being phased out and replaced with newer technologies that can be as effective without the use of toxic carcinogens.
The Discovery of AFFF Toxicity and Dangers
After extensive research by independent organizations and even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it has been determined that repeated exposure to PFAS is dangerous to human health. In fact, a press release by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) clearly states that exposure to PFAS can “result in harmful health outcomes, including cancer” and that “some occupations that are known to be exposed more than the general U.S. population are…firefighters”. Although the dangers are clearly outlined by these agencies, they have to date only enacted some regulation and plans to deal with the future handling of these dangerous substances. On October 18, 2021, the EPA released a strategic roadmap illustrating some of the plans and goals, which the roadmap itself makes clear will be a process of several years. Because of the dangers of PFAS and the long process of the EPA to fully deal with the situation, several states have already enacted and implemented laws to restrict and/or outright ban the use of AFFF and the PFAS it contains to help avoid future damage.
Who is Affected by AFFF and PFA use?
While the laws are being changed to address the dangers of AFFF and PFAS, what is clear is that firefighters are the occupation along with military veterans who are most at risk of becoming victims to the health impacts of these products. Because AFFF was used in both municipal and military settings, anyone who worked and trained around these products and had repeated exposure is most at risk for developing health problems including cancer. Although laws are changing, there are thousands of firefighters who have used AFFF and had repeated exposure, because the product has been available and in widespread use for over 60 years. What is to be done to assure that every possible solution is pursued to ensure treatment and compensation for the victims by manufacturers who know of the health risks of their products, however, neglected to even mention the risks of long term exposure, including cancer?
AFFF Lawsuits and Litigation
The pursuit of justice for the victims of those exposed to this hazardous and toxic chemical has led to an arena of complexity for the clients and the attorneys who represent them. Not only does this litigation involve large corporations such as 3M who manufactured and misrepresented the product by failing to notify of the potential risks to those who are exposed to it, but involves potentially thousands of individual cases, AFFF Multi-District Litigation, as well as an AFFF class action suit. Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine have the resources, expertise, and experience to try this type of case and bring a successful outcome, one which not only compensates the victims but includes punitive damages for the failures of the chemical companies who must be held accountable for their negligence and indifference to the victims. Whether you are an attorney currently representing a victim of paraquat or a person or family member of someone directly affected, you can end your search for representation here and trust Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine to not only litigate your case, but carry it all the way to trial for the best possible outcome.
At Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine, we are recognized as a national law firm and are licensed in over 25 states. Our reputation speaks for itself, and we are known for our enduring resolve to take cases to trial that other attorneys simply did not have the capabilities and resources for. With over (x number??) of trials with successful outcomes and regular trial awards exceeding our clients’ expectations, we regularly push the bar higher in our efforts to bring justice to plaintiffs who need the best representation at trial. Preparation is the name of the game when we appear in the courtroom at trial. We focus on strategic structuring of trial arguments, in-depth witness preparation, comprehensive jury research, case strategies built through focus groups and mock trials and have a reputation for winning against deep pocketed corporations. We offer regular communication and case updates to parties of interest, competitive fee agreements and are committed to maximizing results. (Any other statistics here?)
If you are an attorney who is currently representing a client who wants to further litigate their claim against an AFFF manufacturer or your client wants to opt-out of a class action settlement, your search ends here. Simply call us at (888) 488-9616 or use the contact form on our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a highly qualified trial attorney to discuss how we can help and take your case to the next level.