Health Knowledge

AFFF Lawsuits and the Health Risks of Extinguishing Fires

Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has long been revered for its prowess in extinguishing fires fueled by flammable liquids. However, its firefighting potential is powered by harmful chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Among these harmful chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid have come under scrutiny for their association with severe health risks.

Lately, AFFF has become the center of a growing number of legal disputes. Firefighters, servicemen, and people living near places that use AFFF are demanding answers and accountability for the dangers it poses. In this article, we will explore the legal battles and the health risks surrounding AFFF.

AFFF and Its Versatile Application

AFFF is a firefighting agent renowned for its remarkable versatility. It finds applications in a wide array of settings. This ranges from military facilities to chemical plants, oil refineries, and even municipal fire departments. 

What makes AFFF indispensable is its unique ability to combat fires that involve flammable liquids. For firefighters, AFFF is a vital tool when faced with scenarios where water alone cannot effectively control the blaze. 

When sprayed onto a fire, this foam forms a film that effectively prevents oxygen from reaching the fuel source. This dual-action approach stops the fire from rekindling, making AFFF a go-to solution in emergencies involving hazardous materials.

The Hidden Danger: PFAS in AFFF

Beneath the surface of AFFF’s firefighting capabilities lies a concealed danger: the presence of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to a report on ScienceDirect, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are the two main PFAS chemicals found in AFFF. Unlike natural substances, PFAS are human-made compounds that have been in use since the 1950s in a range of products.

PFAS are integral to AFFF’s effectiveness, enabling it to create a lasting foam that effectively extinguishes fires involving flammable liquids. However, it is these chemicals that have raised alarm bells due to their potential health risks.

Health Risks Linked to AFFF Exposure

Extensive research and studies have unveiled a troubling list of health problems associated with AFFF exposure. While it’s important to note that not everyone exposed to AFFF will develop these conditions, the risk escalates with the duration of exposure. 

Here are some of the health issues linked to AFFF:

  • Cancers: AFFF exposure has been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including testicular, kidney, pancreatic, and more.
  • Liver Damage: Prolonged exposure to AFFF chemicals may lead to liver damage.
  • Thyroid Disease: Thyroid problems have been linked to PFAS exposure from AFFF.
  • Immune System Changes: AFFF exposure is known to alter immune system functions, potentially causing immunity-related issues.
  • Cholesterol Problems: Some studies suggest a connection between AFFF exposure and changes in cholesterol levels.
  • Fertility Issues: There’s evidence pointing to fertility problems among those with long-term exposure to AFFF.
  • Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension/Preeclampsia: Pregnant women exposed to AFFF may be at a higher risk of developing hypertension or preeclampsia.

The AFFF Legal Battle

As the AFFF foam cancer and other health risks became increasingly evident, a legal battle unfolded. Civilian and military firefighters, along with communities residing near AFFF-utilizing facilities, initiated lawsuits against manufacturers. 

The lawsuits allege that manufacturers were aware of the health risks associated with AFFF but failed to warn the public. These lawsuits represent a collective effort to hold accountable those responsible for exposing individuals to the dangers of AFFF chemicals.

According to, 3M made a significant move by offering a $10 billion settlement offer in June 2023. However, TorHoerman Law emphasizes that the landscape of AFFF lawsuits is complex. There are thousands of pending cases and a chance for potential rejection of this settlement offer. In the meantime, the legal battle continues to evolve, with more individuals and entities considering their legal options.

Expanding Scope of AFFF Lawsuits

AFFF lawsuits have expanded beyond manufacturers like 3M to encompass various other entities, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). As per the IAFF, NFPA has faced allegations that it required the use of PFAS in firefighter gear testing standards. 

A lawsuit has been filed in the Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. It seeks compensation and justice for the irreversible damages and suffering caused. This expansion of the legal battleground highlights the growing concern surrounding PFAS exposure in firefighting contexts and beyond. 

AFFF Lawsuits and Your Health

If you or a loved one has been exposed to AFFF and experienced adverse health effects, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Seeking legal advice from experienced personal injury attorneys is crucial in understanding your eligibility and navigating these lawsuits. 

They can assist you in gathering the necessary documentation to support your case. This can help you obtain the maximum compensation for the health challenges you’ve faced as a result of AFFF exposure.

Final Word

While effective in extinguishing fires, the use of AFFF in firefighting has raised significant health concerns due to the presence of PFAS. This has led to a growing number of lawsuits seeking accountability from manufacturers and other entities involved. 

The health risks linked to AFFF exposure, including cancer and liver damage, underscore the urgency of addressing this issue. As litigation evolves and expands, it highlights the need for individuals affected by AFFF to seek legal advice. Expert attorneys can help navigate the complex legal landscape and obtain compensation for the health challenges endured by affected individuals.

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