AFFF Firefighting Foam Cancer Risk

5/13/2020 By Andrea Gold Read in about 3 minutes

Allegedly, manufacturers of AFFF foam knew about the toxic chemicals and increased risk of cancer since the 1940’s.

You put your life on the line for your neighbors and community every day. Fighting fires and saving lives is your passion. It’s a noble profession that is necessary and appreciated by the people you help and those who may need you someday. Unfortunately, in some cases, the very foam you use to save lives may have toxic chemicals that can cause cancer in you and the people who live in areas where you use the foam.

The foam in question is aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) that contains toxic chemicals found to cause cancer in those who come in contact with it, according to several studies over the past thirty years.

How AFFF Firefighting Foam Works

This particular type of foam is very effective at putting out gasoline, oil, and jet fuel fires. The foam creates a blanket over the fires, which cuts off the oxygen to the fuel (see below).

  • Smothers the fire like a blanket
  • Cools the fuel and surrounding surfaces
  • Separates the source of flames from the fuel surface
  • Prevents the release of flammable vapors

PFAS Based Firefighting Foam and Cancer Connection

AFFF contains toxic chemicals such as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been linked to several types of cancer. Some fire departments still use this foam to put out fires because of how effective it is.

Health organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have determined that these chemicals are linked to various forms of cancer.

Cancers Linked to AFFF Foam

  • Pancreatic
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Lymphoma
  • Testicular
  • Prostate
  • Breast

Where is Firefighting Foam Being Used Today?

Some military bases, airports, and industrial locations still use the foam. Firefighters at airports were required by the Federal Aviation Administration to use AFFF foam until 2018. Over the years, many fire departments have discontinued the use of firefighting foam, but others still use it.

Many firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer in connection to their exposure to these toxic chemicals. Several firefighting foam lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of AFFF foam because they supposedly knew about the risks involved in using these toxic chemicals years before they informed the public.

Cancer Risk to Nearby Homes and Military Bases

The risk of cancer is not just for firefighters, but also for people who live close to areas where the foam was used. It was discovered that the foam would seep into the water in areas where it was used and contaminated the well water and drinking water, posing a risk to property owners and communities close to airports and military bases.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and you think it may be due to exposure to AFFF foam, you may have a lawsuit. The manufacturers had a responsibility to inform the public and to make sure their product was safe for use. Many firefighters have died, suffered job loss and expensive medical bills due to cancer that was most likely linked to these toxic chemicals.

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