Aqueous Film-Forming Foam has been used as a highly effective fire extinguisher on military bases, at airports, and by fire departments across the U.S. Historically speaking, the military has been one of the heaviest users of AFFF. A growing body of research has shown that AFFF contains concerning levels of toxic chemicals known as PFAS. Repeated exposure can pose significant health threats to the workers who use AFFF and the communities near AFFF sites. This has led to a growing AFFF lawsuit.
In response, Congress included instructions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 for the military to eliminate AFFF by October 1st, 2024. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, for many families, the damage has already been done. If you have developed cancer or other health issues or lost a loved one after being exposed to AFFF firefighting foam, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and wrongful death in an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit.
Aqueous Film Forming Foam Contains Cancer-Causing Chemicals
The military has relied on AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam, for decades as a primary method of fire suppression. AFFF is able to quickly smother fire by creating a barrier between the fuel and oxygen. While it is efficient at preventing the immediate dangers a fire presents, AFFF exposure has been linked to a number of cancers and other health issues due to the presence of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). PFAS are called forever chemicals because they are long-lasting chemicals, meaning that once absorbed, they stay in the human body for decades.
Examples of Health Issues Caused by PFAS Exposure:
- High cholesterol levels
- Decreased vaccine response in children
- Changes in liver enzymes
- High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
- Decreases in infant birth weights
- Kidney and testicular cancer
Additionally, a number of other cancers are currently being investigated for their potential ties to PFAS exposure.
Military Use of AFFF to End After Concerns Over AFFF Grow
In some cases, the communities surrounding airports, military bases, and other locations where AFFF is used have been inadvertently exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS after the AFFF runoff contaminated their water supply. A prime example of this is the AFFF contamination of Pensacola communities that surround the city's military bases. Higher rates of cancer and other life-threatening health issues have been reported in these areas, and scientific testing has ascertained that PFAS from nearby military bases are likely responsible.
Researchers for the U.S. military have been researching safer alternatives for AFFF, but have struggled to produce a comparably effective product. However, due to the clear health threat that forever chemicals in AFFF present, the military is under orders to eliminate AFFF from most facilities. The Air Force is on track to eliminate hangar fire suppression systems that use AFFF.
Over the next and a half, the Air force will be “closing and locking the valves that connect the foam to the hangar fire suppression systems. The tanks will then be tagged for removal with AFFF signage” in order to comply with the NDAA deadline. Instead, these facilities will rely on water to extinguish fires going forward. AFFF on fire trucks will eventually be replaced with the military’s alternative, which researchers anticipate will be available by October 2024.
Recovering Damages in an AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
The illnesses and injuries associated with repeated exposure to forever chemicals can cause you and your family financial turmoil and undue stress. You may need to travel frequently to receive cancer treatments, endure your infant’s stay in the NICU, or miss weeks of work to recuperate from invasive surgery. The mental and monetary costs can accumulate quickly.
In a product liability lawsuit, plaintiffs can claim compensatory damages to seek financial relief for their losses. Compensatory damages can be classified as economic or non-economic. Economic damages provide compensation for monetary costs and are usually documented with a receipt. Non-economic damages offer plaintiffs the opportunity to secure compensation for emotional losses, such as the emotional toll associated with undergoing chemotherapy.
Examples of Damages in an AFFF Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Hospital stays
- Radiation therapy
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning potential
- Missed promotions
- Job retraining
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Loss of consortium
The severity of the health issues caused by PFAS may require organ transplants, compromise someone’s ability to have children, or even claim their life. These life-threatening and life-altering damages are deserving of compensation. A product liability attorney is the most qualified person to advocate for the full value of your economic and non-economic damages in an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit.
Plaintiffs Seek Compensation in Product Liability Lawsuits
While there are options for military families and civilian contractors who were exposed to PFAS under specific circumstances, like the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits, most claims pertaining to AFFF exposure should focus on the negligent manufacturers of AFFF firefighting foam. In a product liability lawsuit, plaintiffs will need to prove that the AFFF manufacturers are liable because they allowed carcinogens in their products, failing to provide plaintiffs with the duty of care they were owed.
Plaintiffs will need to present sufficient evidence that the AFFF manufacturers’ negligence led to their exposure to carcinogenic PFAS, which resulted in their health issues and damages. The best way to ensure that your settlement accounts for your past, present, and future losses is to consult a seasoned product liability attorney.
Product liability claims demand detailed evidence, strategic negotiating, and familiarity with the technical aspects of the claim. By hiring an experienced product liability attorney, you are increasing your chances of securing a settlement that reflects the value of your damages. They will be able to offer legal insight into negotiating strategy, resources to investigate your claim, and an experienced advocate to champion your AFFF firefighting foam claim to maximize your compensation.