Lawsuits over aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), more commonly known as firefighting foam, accuse manufacturers of knowingly selling a dangerous product. AFFF firefoam, used in a number of industries, has been linked to several serious diseases such as cancer.
Two critical questions that must be asked are what the manufacturers knew and when. As evidence emerges of the health risks associated with AFFF firefighting foam, the answers to these and related questions are becoming clear. Rueb Stoller Daniel examines this critical issue.
Why the Answers to These Questions Matter
AFFF firefighting foam contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known more simply as PFAS. These highly toxic chemicals are entirely man-made, so natural causes cannot be attributed to them. PFAS were not widely detected in human bodies before firefoam was commercially developed, which establishes an interesting link between them.
It matters what the science concludes about PFAS, and how long ago these conclusions were made. That’s because a product manufacturer has a duty to ensure its products are safe.
If evidence exists that a product, or its components, are dangerous, the manufacturer could be held liable. A manufacturer also cannot escape liability by claiming it did not actually know of any health risks. The company can still be held responsible if it reasonably should have known about the hazards.
Therefore, to win monetary compensation for victims, it’s critical to determine what firefoam makers knew and when they knew it. We already have some understanding of that.
Decades of Research About the Risks of Firefighting Foam
Studies have long demonstrated that PFAS cause cancerous tumors in animals. Manufacturers of firefighting foam should have been aware of these studies, as it is their duty to ensure only safe products are sold. Any responsible company would have at least paused the use of PFAS until further research could confirm these dangers.
It’s clear that firefoam manufacturers did not take this precaution but instead included PFAS in their product. Nor did they bother to even warn the numerous individuals who came in contact with these toxic substances, such as:
- Airport workers
- Military personnel
- Industrial workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Anyone who worked for a firefighter foam manufacturer
- Anyone who transported AFFF firefighter foam
- Anyone who helped incinerate or dispose of AFFF foam
- People who have lived in close proximity to sites where firefoam was used
Firefighting foam containing PFAS was commercially introduced in the 1960s. It was quickly adopted by countless firefighting organizations and used heavily on military bases. Studies into PFAS continued, with more evidence stacking up as to their dangers. For instance, adverse health effects were discovered in the testicles, livers, adrenals, and other organs of lab animals.
Manufacturers Continue Using PFAS as the Research Increases
At the end of the 1970s, it was found that PFAS can remain in the bodies of animals for a long time. The chemicals continue to accumulate, and we now know the human body has no way to break them down. For this reason, PFAS are often called “forever chemicals.” In the 1980s, the research even identified the mechanism by which PFAS cause an increased cancer risk.
Despite this evidence, manufacturers kept marketing and selling AFFF firefighter foam with inadequate safety warnings. Firefighters and others assumed the product was safe and continued to be exposed to it. The environment also became contaminated with PFAS.
Regulatory agencies like the EPA finally raised concerns. Even still, firefighting foam manufacturers assured the government that their product was safe. At this point, it became nearly impossible to contend that makers were unaware of the risks. Reasonable due diligence on their part, to ensure the safety of firefoam, should have caused them to take action. Their negligence, sadly, harmed many individuals.
We’re Ready to Use All Possible Evidence in Favor of Victims
Part of our duty at Rueb Stoller Daniel is to gather the evidence needed to prove firefighting foam manufacturers’ liability. That includes some of the studies mentioned above and other research. We are committed to making the most compelling legal arguments in favor of victims.
If you or a loved one were injured by AFFF firefighter foam, reach out to us to schedule your initial consultation today.