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August 12, 2020

Firefighting Foam Companies Knew for Decades about PFAS Cancer Risk

Reports indicate manufacturers knew since the 1960’s that man-made chemicals added to firefighting foam caused toxic side effects and never warned consumers about the risk. Now, increasing individuals who were regularly exposed to firefighting foam indicate these chemicals caused their severe cancer diagnoses.

Since the 1960’s, some of the most popular versions of firefighting foam on the market have contained chemicals called per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Some sources, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even indicate PFAS have been added to firefighting foams since the 1940’s.

PFAS are man-made chemicals designed to be incredibly resistant to heat, oil, water, etc. Because of their heat-resistant properties, manufacturers decided to add these chemicals to Class B AFFF to help fight fires, especially oil-based ones.

However, studies conducted as early as the 1960’s found PFAS can have toxic side effects that impact the organs, notably the liver and testicles. PFAS have been linked to numerous hazardous side effects including liver damage, decreased fertility, growth and development, thyroid function, and even cancer.

Followed by additional research in the 1970’s, industry testing discovered PFAS chemicals bind to proteins in the blood, leading to build up. This information tracks with the FDA’s discovery that PFAS can accumulate in the human body and environment and never break down, earning them the nickname of “forever chemicals.”

“Accumulation of certain PFAS has also been shown through blood tests to occur in humans and animals,” said the FDA in a statement. “While the science surrounding potential health effects of this bioaccumulation of certain PFAS is developing, evidence suggests it may cause serious health conditions.”

Continued testing conducted in the 1980’s found PFAS exposure was linked to testicular tumors. In fact, in internal documents DuPont de Nemours Inc., a chemical company that manufactures firefighting foam, determined PFAS were animal carcinogens and possible human carcinogens. Despite this knowledge, AFFF manufacturers never warned consumers about the cancer risks of PFAS in firefighting foam.

Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

In recent years, more and more firefighters are discovering that their long-term exposure to firefighting foam caused their cancer diagnoses. Numerous claims across the country allege PFAS in firefighting foam caused cancers including testicular, ovarian, pancreatic, kidney, and liver cancer.

 In both civilian and military settings, firefighters have long handled AFFF foam in both training and on-the-job situations. But firefighters were never warned about the health and cancer risks of exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam.

“We weren’t aware that [PFAS] was a risk...For years, we were under the impression that foam was not a hazard,” said Jeff Yaroch, a Michigan state representative and former firefighter. Yaroch was a proponent of recent legislation in Michigan that regulates the use and reporting of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Many individuals filing product liability claims against AFFF manufacturers argue that if they had been properly warned about the health risks of PFAS exposure, they could have taken measures to protect themselves or choose a, perhaps, safer product. With the growing number of lawsuits filed in the federal courts nationwide, these cases have now been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for pretrial proceedings.

Were You Diagnosed with Cancer after Exposure to Firefighting Foam?

Were you regularly exposed to firefighting foam and diagnosed with cancer or another serious health condition? If so, reach out to us today to discuss your legal options. Because manufacturers of toxic AFFF have allegedly known for decades about the health risks of PFAS and failed to tell the public about the risks, you may be able to hold them accountable for their actions. Their negligence may entitle you to compensation to recover for your firefighting foam injuries.

Contact the personal injury lawyers at the McGartland Law Firm today for your free case consultation. We are here to answer any questions and concerns and to help you reach the legal help you deserve.

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