Does AFFF Cause Cancer?

MRI scan of a human brain

Firefighters and military personnel used aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for fighting chemical blazes. It is now known that two of the common compounds in AFFF are carcinogenic.

AFFF was effective in combating flammable liquid fires. However, those who battled the blaze and those in the immediate vicinity may have increased health risks. Because AFFF does not break down quickly, it leaves a trail of groundwater and soil contamination in its path– for generations.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London can protect your rights and file an AFFF lawsuit on your behalf. If you have AFFF-related health issues, we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

What is AFFF?

The U.S. Navy developed AFFF in the 1960s. For decades, it was used to fight chemical fires at oil refineries, chemical plants and storage facilities, military airports, and similar sites.

Two of the compounds in AFFF are perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Both are known carcinogens. They are part of the chemical group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As human-made compounds, they do not occur in the natural environment.

PFOA is created during the AFFF manufacturing process and is considered a by-product. PFOS, a fully fluorinated organic acid, is either synthesized during the industrial production process or is a product of degradation of other perfluorinated compounds.   

The EPA refers to PFOA and PFOS as “two contaminants of emerging concern.” There is “suggestive evidence” that these toxins cause cancer, according to the EPA. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that PFAs may cause cancer, as does the CDC and other significant scientific organizations.

AFFF and Cancer

Once a person is exposed to AFFF, the PFAS remain in the body for years. They are referred to as “forever chemicals.” In time, as they continue building in the tissues, cancer may result. 

The types of cancer that have been linked to AFFF include:

  • Bladder
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Kidney
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Pancreatic
  • Prostate
  • Testicular
  • Thyroid

Other Conditions

Cancer is not the only illness or condition caused by AFFF. Those exposed may suffer from fertility issues, or their children may have birth defects. Liver damage and immune suppression may also result.

AFFF Exposure

PFAS are absorbed via inhalation or through the skin. However, since they remain in soil and groundwater, toxin exposure is possible by consuming vegetables or fruits grown in contaminated soil.  They have also been found in drinking water supplies.

Risk Factors for AFFF Exposure

It is not only firefighters, military personnel, and those on the site of chemical fires fought with AFFF who are at risk for cancer. So are individuals living in the area where AFFF was used or stored, such as current or former military bases or aviation facilities.

The EPA reports that data indicates “blood serum concentrations of PFOS and PFOA are higher in workers and individuals living near facilities that use or produce PFASs than for the general population.” Numerous studies have found significantly elevated levels of PFASs in the blood of firefighters, often as much as three times higher than that of the general population.

Because the PFAS leach into soil and groundwater, the area of the contamination may extend far beyond the chemical fire site. Locations where airliners or military jets crashed, may also harbor PFAS.  

The potential risk of cancer from PFAS exposure rises with the duration, and frequency of exposure. An individual’s general health also plays a role, as those with a compromised immune system may prove more vulnerable to developing malignancies. 

Available Damages

Nothing can reverse exposure to PFAS or the long-term consequences, but money can help pay for related expenses. Damages, or compensation, from an AFFF lawsuit may include:

  • Medical bills, current, and future
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with cancer after exposure to AFFF, contact an experienced AFFF lawyer at Douglas and London. Text or call us 24/7 to schedule a free consultation or complete our online form.

After reviewing your case, we will let you know your options. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win.