The moment a building is on fire, gutsy firefighters walk into the dangerous flames with fire extinguishers to secure people trapped within. Everyone admires them for their courage. But not many are aware of the secret dangers that they face once the flames are extinguished.
Currently, new investigations have highlighted the probable health hazards of AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) used to counter flammable fires. In August 2023, About Lawsuits reported on Tracy Mitchem, an Air Force firefighter who filed a lawsuit against the AFFF manufacturers for developing prostate cancer.
Tracy filed a legal complaint for being repeatedly exposed to the harmful chemicals that led to cancer. He says that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009. It was in July 2021 that he realized the link between the disease and AFFF exposure. But never during his firefighting career was he warned of the carcinogenic chemicals in AFFF.
Unfortunately, many, like Tracy, have witnessed similar tragic predicaments. In this article, we will discuss the health issues caused by AFFF on the first responders. We will also shed light on how to file a legal complaint.
Understanding AFFF & Its Probable Health Hazards
AFFF was used for years in the U.S. Air Force and military departments to extinguish fuel-based fires. But the foam comprises chemical compounds like PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). This compound persists in the human body and the environment for a long time. That is how it earns the name ‘Forever Chemicals’.
AFFF exposure has resulted in several health issues and ailments among the first responders. The crucial ones are:
Recent happenings and evidence point towards AFFF, leading to cancer in firefighters. The toxic chemicals gather in a firefighter’s body and get detected in their urine or blood. AFFF exposure results in testicular, breast, prostate, bladder, and kidney cancer.
AFFF and PFAS have increased alarm among the global firefighting community. No wonder affected firefighters want to file an AFFF lawsuit and get compensated for their damages.
- Respiratory Problems
AFFF has a blend of surfactants and chemicals. Once burned or heated, it releases poisonous particulate matter and gasses into the air. Hence, firefighters who inhale this smoke can suffer from respiratory health problems. The harmful particles can travel into the lungs and remain trapped within. Asthma is one of the common respiratory problems people suffer from after ingesting PFAS.
- Endocrine Disruption
AFFF also results in endocrine disruption. According to the ‘National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’, the endocrine system has several glands. These glands produce hormones that signal the molecules as and when it gets released into the bloodstream.
The hormones play a vital part in regulating the multiple functions, which include reproduction and fertility. It represents the correct functioning of the endocrine system. But PFAS exposure can disrupt the hormonal balance and cause health complications. It can affect thyroid hormone levels and lead to thyroid disorders and hypothyroidism.
Furthermore, in May 2023, a news report in The Guardian revealed PFAS includes nearly 15,000 chemicals used in multiple industries. It is resistant to stains, water, and heat in several products. Being pervasive, these chemicals have been the leading cause of renal disease, autoimmune diseases, birth deformities, and other health problems, even with less exposure.
Taking Legal Action
Firefighters who have faced ailments and physical issues due to AFFF exposure can file a legal complaint and recover their damages. Others at risk, such as industrial workers, airport and military personnel, and people who have worked in an incinerator facility, can also file a lawsuit. It is necessary to get in touch with a lawyer having experience in tackling similar legal battles and get guided by them.
TorHoerman Law states that lawyers rely on evidence to build their legal case. It is necessary to keep medical records and other details handy for filing a complaint. Once the lawyers review your case, they will decide on the liability for all injuries you incurred. They identify the parties that are accountable for ailments. Finally, they provide detailed guidance about the legal process and address all your queries.
Recently, several Americans have been adversely affected due to AFFF exposure. As a result, a U.S. regulator had directed the chemical giant factories in Virginia to stop releasing hazardous levels of PFAS waste in the Ohio River. The government should undertake such initiatives to ensure that AFFF exposure reduces gradually.
However, if you or anyone you know has developed cancer or any other chronic ailment due to PFAS exposure, it is necessary to seek medical aid. After that, seeking legal assistance is a wise decision.