Does AFFF Cause Cancer?

Does AFFF Cause Cancer?

Firefighters and military service members risk dangerous situations every day of their careers. These brave people put their lives on the line to protect other people and property. Many of the potential problems and hazards they face are obvious, but some are more hidden and just as life-threatening.

Until recently, one of these unknown dangers was aqueous film-forming foam, also known as AFFF or AFFF foam. After years of being used regularly by first responders to extinguish gasoline and other fuel fires in particular, we are now facing the question… Does AFFF cause cancer?

Unfortunately, studies have shown a link between AFFF exposure and numerous types of cancer.

Before we dive into the details of AFFF cancer, let’s review some background information.

Understanding Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam (AFFF) and Its Potential Cancer Risks

Let's begin by delving into the world of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). This firefighting foam plays a crucial role in combating flammable-liquid fires, particularly those involving substances like fuel on ships. While AFFF is primarily water-based, it possesses a unique capability to transform into foam upon application, creating a protective film that starves the fire of oxygen, ultimately extinguishing it. This film also serves as a safeguard against the fire reigniting spontaneously.

Does AFFF cause cancer? Firefighters who used this foam need to know.

AFFF's effectiveness lies in its ability to cool and smother the fire while separating it from the fuel source. This makes it an invaluable tool in fire suppression efforts. However, there's a concerning aspect to AFFF that warrants attention. Certain chemicals used in its composition are not only toxic but also potentially carcinogenic. These chemicals, namely perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), belong to a class known as per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often referred to as "forever chemicals" due to the amount of time they take to break down in the environment.

The Health Risks of AFFF Foam, Particularly in Relation to Cancer

Prolonged exposure to PFOS and PFOA, the chemicals found in AFFF, is associated with several health risks, including a potential link to cancer. In small doses, such as passing by a fire scene, these chemicals pose minimal danger. However, several types of cancer have been linked to AFFF firefighting foam exposure, including the following:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Bladder cancer

People who had multiple exposures over a long period of time experience the most severe consequences. Also, extended AFFF exposure may heighten the risk of:

  • Adult-onset asthma or exacerbation of pre-existing asthma conditions.
  • Weakened immune system, making the body more vulnerable to various ailments.
  • Thyroid disease, which can disrupt hormone regulation and overall health.
  • High cholesterol, contributing to cardiovascular issues.
  • Reduced fertility, impacting the ability to conceive.
  • Liver damage, a serious health concern.
  • Ulcerative colitis, causing gastrointestinal distress.

Notably, PFOS and PFOA exposure can be especially perilous during pregnancy, potentially leading to a low birth weight, stunted growth in the child, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, which may progress to preeclampsia. Moreover, it can affect the development of the child's immune system and hinder their response to vaccines.

While these chemicals are not definitively classified as carcinogens, there are emerging connections between PFOS and PFOA exposure and increased incidences of testicular, kidney, and bladder cancers. Furthermore, they may be associated with other cancers of the reproductive system. In light of these concerns, FEMA recommends replacing older stocks of AFFF with fluorine-free foam solutions known to be safer, instead of continuing to use the older, toxic foam.

AFFF Foam Exposure: Beyond AFFF Cancer Risks

While the association between Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and cancer is a significant concern, it's essential to recognize that the health consequences of exposure to firefighting foam extend beyond the realm of AFFF cancer. These substances have been connected to a range of additional health issues, underlining the urgency of addressing this matter comprehensively. 

Here are some health concerns associated with AFFF foam exposure:

  • Weakened Immune System: Exposure to PFOAs in AFFF foam can compromise the body's immune defenses, making individuals more susceptible to various illnesses.
  • Fertility Issues and Pregnancy-Related Complications: For those exposed to these chemicals, fertility problems can emerge. Additionally, pregnant individuals may face heightened risks of hypertension, including the potentially severe condition known as preeclampsia.
  • Liver Damage: PFOAs found in fire fighting foam can potentially harm the liver, posing a threat to overall health and wellbeing.
  • Elevated Cholesterol Levels: Exposure to these substances has been linked to increased cholesterol levels, which can contribute to cardiovascular issues.
  • Increased Risk of Thyroid Disease: There's a concerning connection between exposure to AFFF foam and an elevated risk of thyroid disease, which can disrupt hormone regulation.
  • Birth Defects and Child Developmental Issues: AFFF foam exposure raises concerns about the potential for birth defects and developmental challenges in children born to individuals who were exposed to these chemicals.
  • Increased Risk of Asthma: An elevated risk of asthma development or worsening of pre-existing asthma conditions has also been noted among those exposed to PFOAs in fire fighting foam.

These health issues highlight the complexity and seriousness of AFFF foam exposure. It's crucial for individuals who have encountered these chemicals to seek proper medical evaluation and care, and for measures to be taken to minimize the risk of exposure for future generations.

What to Do After an AFFF Cancer Diagnosis: Protecting Your Health and Rights

If you've been employed by a fire department, past or present, there's a possibility you've encountered Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) during your firefighting duties. This includes those who've served in the Navy or at airports, where AFFF is a common component in fire suppression efforts. If you, or your healthcare provider, suspect that AFFF exposure may have played a role in your cancer diagnosis, it's essential to take action, especially if you've had multiple exposures over an extended period.

So, what steps should you take following an AFFF cancer diagnosis? These actions not only safeguard your physical health but also your financial well-being, increasing your chances of a successful AFFF cancer claim.

Consult a doctor to help you treat AFFF cancer

Collaborate with Your Physician to Craft a Comprehensive Care Plan

Many cancer types associated with AFFF exposure may not manifest noticeable symptoms in their early stages. Consequently, by the time symptoms become evident, the cancer could have significantly progressed. 

In such cases, aggressive treatment may be necessary to slow the cancer's spread and enhance the chances of recovery. Your care plan might encompass various components:

  • Chemotherapy: This treatment deploys potent chemicals to target fast-growing cells, including cancer cells. While effective in combating cancer, chemotherapy can produce side effects as it impacts healthy cells throughout the body.
  • Radiation: Focused radiation beams are directed at cancer cells to eliminate them. Certain types of cancer respond positively to radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment mobilizes your immune system to battle cancer. It involves extracting immune cells, reprogramming them, and reintroducing them into your body to bolster your cancer-fighting capabilities.
  • Surgery: In many cancer cases, surgery is utilized to remove cancerous cells and halt the cancer's progression. In advanced cases, extensive surgeries, even involving the removal of affected body parts, may be necessary.
  • Palliative Care: Your doctor may recommend palliative care in addition to other treatments. This approach focuses on alleviating discomfort and managing symptoms associated with both cancer and its treatments.

It's imperative to discuss your treatment options meticulously with your healthcare provider and commence cancer treatment promptly. Not only does early treatment enhance prognosis, but it also generates essential evidence that you've taken proactive steps to address your cancer. Demonstrating your commitment to recovery can simplify the process of securing the compensation you deserve through an AFFF cancer lawsuit following your diagnosis.

Connect with Experienced Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyers

Upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, waste no time in reaching out to an experienced AFFF law firm to explore your entitlement to compensation and the possibility of filing a claim against the AFFF manufacturer responsible for your cancer. You need a firefighting foam attorney who genuinely has your best interests at heart and is willing to vigorously advocate on your behalf to ensure you obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve.

When searching for an attorney, consider the following:

  • Experience in Serious and Catastrophic Injury Claims: Seek an attorney well-versed in handling complex injury claims, particularly those related to AFFF manufacturers. You want an attorney with a deep understanding of the legal nuances surrounding your cancer diagnosis and AFFF exposure.
  • Convenience in Meeting: Look for an attorney willing to accommodate your schedule. Given that you may be undergoing cancer treatments, having an attorney who can meet you at your convenience, possibly even virtually, is invaluable.
  • Communication Preferences: Discuss communication expectations with potential attorneys. What mode of communication do they prefer? How frequently will they update you? Clarify when you can expect to hear from them and whether they will maintain contact even when there are no immediate developments to report.

Choosing the right attorney is a pivotal step in ensuring your AFFF cancer claim proceeds effectively. Your attorney should be your trusted ally throughout this challenging journey.

In our society, we entrust manufacturers of various chemical products with crucial responsibilities. We expect them to furnish us with the vital safety information necessary for informed usage, and ensure we are aware of any potential health hazards associated with their products. 

When individuals suffer from severe illnesses like AFFF cancer due to a company's product containing undisclosed dangerous ingredients and side effects, they have a recourse available — they can file a product liability lawsuit.

Lawsuit Legal News has been at the forefront of championing the rights of those harmed by negligent companies. We have steadfastly represented injured plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits, particularly in cases involving firefighting foam cancer victims and their families nationwide. We understand the gravity of your situation and extend our unwavering support by offering free consultations to those facing this distressing predicament.

Our dedicated team of mass tort attorneys is poised to assist you throughout the legal process, guiding you in constructing a compelling case, calculating the damages you've suffered, negotiating settlements on your behalf, and, if necessary, representing you in court. 

When facing the daunting aftermath of AFFF cancer or other severe illnesses linked to hazardous products, remember that you don't have to confront this challenge alone. The skilled team of legal professionals at Lawsuit Legal News will stand by your side, advocate for your rights and diligently pursue justice on your behalf.

Contact us today at 866-416-1344 or fill out our contact form online for a free consultation, and let us begin the journey toward holding those responsible accountable for the damages you've suffered. Together, we can work towards a resolution that brings you the compensation and closure you deserve.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More

Latest News