Forever Chemicals in Your Water? An In-Depth Look at the AFFF Lawsuit

For decades, a firefighting foam called aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was hailed as a hero for extinguishing dangerous fuel fires. However, AFFF has a dark secret: a collection of compounds known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are called “forever chemicals.”

This is because they are persistent in both the human body and the environment. As per the UNEP, these chemicals can persist in the environment for several thousand years. Now, they are raising serious health concerns, leading to a wave of lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers.

In this article, we’ll discuss the AFFF lawsuit, explore the dangers of PFAS contamination, and shed light on the ongoing legal battle.

What are PFAS, and How Did They Get in Our Water?

A class of artificial compounds known as PFAS is utilized in AFFF and other industrial products. These substances are perfect for firefighting foam because of their exceptional resistance to heat and water. Sadly, this same characteristic also means that they may build up in our water sources and make it difficult for the environment to break down.

Firefighting training exercises and spills from military bases are major contributors to PFAS contamination. Some studies have found that the chemicals in drinking water near military installations are at levels exceeding health advisory limits. A recent report by notes that over 200 million Americans could have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated drinking water.

How Do PFAS Affect Our Health?

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a variety of health problems, including some cancers, immune system issues, and thyroid problems. The science on the specific health effects is still evolving, but a growing body of research suggests a concerning link.

According to research released by EHP Publishing, personnel in the U.S. Air Force who were exposed to AFFF had a higher risk of testicular cancer. This is just one example, and researchers are continuing to investigate the full range of potential health effects from PFAS exposure.

The Current State of AFFF Lawsuits

TorHoerman Law notes that the AFFF lawsuit is a mass tort case involving thousands of firefighters, military personnel, and civilians. The plaintiffs believe that their health problems stem from exposure to PFAS in AFFF. They claim that AFFF producers, including 3M and DuPont, knew or should have known about the hazards of PFAS but neglected to notify users.

As per the recent AFFF lawsuit update, there are currently almost 8,270 lawsuits pending in the AFFF litigation as of June 2024. These lawsuits seek damages for suffering and pain, lost wages, and medical expenses.

CNN notes that in October 2023, a major development occurred when a $10.3 billion global settlement was proposed to resolve all municipal claims. If approved, this will free up resources for the courts to focus on individual personal injury claims.

Potential Impact of the AFFF Lawsuit

The AFFF lawsuit has the potential to have a significant impact on various stakeholders. For the victims of PFAS exposure, a successful lawsuit could result in substantial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The lawsuit could also hold AFFF manufacturers accountable for their actions and encourage them to develop safer firefighting alternatives. Furthermore, the legal battle could lead to stricter regulations on PFAS use and disposal, benefiting public health overall.

The Growing Public Awareness of PFAS Contamination

Public awareness of PFAS contamination is rapidly growing. In May 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new national drinking water standard for certain PFAS chemicals.

Under this, the EPA has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS. This marks a significant step towards protecting public health, as it provides a regulatory limit for these harmful chemicals in drinking water.


What are the cancerous compounds in AFFF foam?

AFFF foam contains perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These are two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) linked to an increased risk of various cancers.

Can PFAS be removed from the body?

Unfortunately, PFAS cannot be easily removed from the body. These chemicals linger for years, accumulating in our organs and blood.

What is the biggest exposure to PFAS?

Drinking water contaminated with PFAS is the biggest exposure risk for most people. It can also enter our bodies through contaminated seafood or from dust particles containing PFAS.

To sum up, the AFFF lawsuit exposes a concerning reality: firefighting foams lauded for safety may conceal dangers for firefighters, civilians, and the environment. The emerging science of PFAS raises serious public health concerns, and the legal battle seeks not only compensation but also accountability from manufacturers.

The public’s increasing knowledge of PFAS pollution highlights the necessity of more stringent laws and a move toward safer firefighting techniques. In the end, the AFFF case offers a chance to put environmental protection and public health ahead of uncontrolled industrial activities.

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