The dangers of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), also known as firefoam, have been well-documented for some time. However, a recently released study strongly links firefoam to a heightened risk of testicular cancer. The study was conducted among active-duty Air Force servicemen. However, because of the use of AFFF firefoam in other settings (e.g. civilian firefighting), numerous individuals are at risk.
If you were exposed to AFFF and have experienced health problems, you may have a claim for compensation. Talk to the mass tort injury team at Rueb Stoller Daniel to learn more.
Background Information About Firefoam
AFFF or firefoam has been used for years in a number of industries, including firefighting, to extinguish highly flammable fires. These fires, which are fueled by gas or liquid, cannot successfully be put out with water. When firefoam was introduced decades ago it proved immediately to be effective at extinguishing these deadly fires.
But firefoam presents a serious downside. It contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known more commonly as PFAS. PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not decompose in the environment. Unfortunately, these substances also don’t break down in the human body.
They accumulate in the body over time and can lead to numerous health problems such as:
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid disease (hypo- and hyperthyroidism)
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Bladder cancer
- Blood cancer (including leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
PFAS are found in everyday household products, but their use in AFFF is particularly dangerous. Several types of workers have been exposed to PFAS by way of firefoam, including:
- Civilian firefighters
- Airport workers
- Military personnel
- Industrial workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Anyone who worked for an AFFF manufacturer
- Anyone who transported AFFF firefoam
- Anyone who helped incinerate or dispose of AFFF
- People who have lived in close proximity to sites where AFFF was used
What the Air Force Study Revealed
Mark Purdue, Ph.D., of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch and the Uniformed Services University, conducted the study. The objective of the study was to investigate the relationship between PFAS among active-duty Air Force servicemen and testicular cancer.
Elevated blood levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a kind of PFAS, were associated with higher risks of developing this cancer. The research was published in Environmental Health Perspectives in July 2023.
U.S. active-duty servicemen are frequently diagnosed with testicular cancer. Evidence has long suggested a link between PFAS and testicular cancer. However, this was the first study to investigate this relationship using blood measurements within a military population.
Elevated levels of PFAS in the blood were associated with serving as a firefighter. They were also linked with serving at a base with high PFAS levels in the water supply. PFOS in particular were associated with an increased risk of developing testicular cancer.
What This Study Means for You
These findings underscore the dangers of firefoam in general and among Air Force servicemen in particular. If you work in one of the above industries and were exposed to firefoam, your health may be at risk.
Firefoam manufacturers have known of the severe dangers associated with PFAS for decades. Despite this, workers who used or came in contact with firefoam were not warned of the risks. As a result, countless people became ill and died while manufacturers profited.
Rueb Stoller Daniel is representing those who were harmed by firefoam. We can help you seek the compensation you need to cover medical bills and other expenses associated with AFFF. Give us a call today to learn more about your legal rights and options.