Air Force personnel and firefighters exude an air of gravity in the way they dress up for work and the kind of commitment they show toward it. Most people are going to get impressed with the look of it, but only a few will realize the dangers associated with it since they have to get exposed to AFFF, which causes fatal ailments.
AFFF, or Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, has been in use since 1970 for extinguishing jet fuel and petroleum fires. It comprises PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a man-made chemical that leads to several health risks and environmental hazards as well.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, decades of AFFF use have led to PFAS accumulation in the surrounding air, plants, water bodies, and human blood serum globally. Of the many health hazards, this foam has also been linked with prostate cancer in men.
In this article, we will delve into the link between AFFF and prostate cancer and suggest how victims can ask for justice and compensation for their suffering.
Can AFFF Exposure Cause Prostate Cancer?
In August 2022, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters issued a warning for firefighters. Both asked them to curb their PFAS exposure by restricting the use of the turnout gear. The groups had warned that firefighters wouldn’t be able to escape the cancer risk due to PFAS exposure until the chemicals were completely removed from AFFF and their protective gear.
Additionally, the groups stated that firefighters need to use their turnout gear only for emergencies and take it off at the earliest to avert health hazards.
In November 2023, AboutLawsuits.com shared the story of Timothy Zych, a Missouri firefighter from the Shady Valley Fire Protection District, who developed prostate cancer due to AFFF exposure. In this complaint, Timothy shared that he was exposed to high levels of PFAS all through his career.
In his AFFF lawsuit, Timothy had alleged 3M Company, along with 22 other safety device and chemical companies, for not warning him and other fellow firefighters about the dangers of the chemical. They needed to know that AFFF can gather in their bloodstream, stay there, and result in fatal diseases and cancer, of which prostate cancer is one.
It was in December 2022 that Timothy was diagnosed with prostate cancer due to PFAS exposure. In his lawsuit, Zych talks of negligence, breach of warranty, fraudulent misinterpretation, and strict liability.
Other than prostate cancer, AFFF exposure can also cause lymphoma, leukemia, pancreatic, kidney, and testicular cancer. Once the victims have established that their ingestion of this toxic foam is the cause of their cancer and other ailments, they should seek medical aid and legal counsel to get the justice they need.
The Latest AFFF Lawsuit Update
Recently, there have been thousands of firefighting foam lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers by people who developed prostate cancer and other ailments. As a result, there are coordinated pretrial proceedings that are arranged in the federal court system. Here the claims get centralized for Richard M. Gergel, a U.S. District Judge in the South Carolina District, for a set of initial bellwether trials.
At the beginning of 2023, Judge Gagel directed the concerned parties to choose a team of 28 representative personal injury claims for the AFFF injury bellwether category. It consisted of the plaintiffs who shared that they had been exposed to this hazardous chemical through drinking water.
The result of all these legal claims wouldn’t affect any other person’s lawsuit. But the average AFFF settlement payout might impact the amount guilty manufacturers might shell out to settle the lawsuits filed by Timothy and various other plaintiffs in the days to come.
Other than individual complaints, AFFF manufacturers have also witnessed many PFAS water pollution lawsuits, by states, cities, and municipalities across the nation. Therefore, if you or anyone you know has developed prostate cancer due to AFFF exposure, you should file a complaint to get the compensation you deserve.
Walking the Legal Path
Even though the idea of filing a lawsuit seems promising, you must contact a lawyer for the same. Fighting the legal battle all by yourself can be challenging and might make you face hurdles that you don’t know how to address and resolve. Since a lawyer has the legal know-how and expertise, they can create a solid case based on the evidence you provide and ensure that the verdict is in your favor.
Furthermore, the lawyer will also inform you about the settlement payouts so that you have practical expectations. TruLaw states that, to date, no AFFF lawsuits have been settled. Hence, it might be a tad bit early to decide on the average settlement amount. However, based on the legal facts available so far, the payout can vary between $10,000 and more than $300,000.
This is not the final payout amount, as it depends on the exposure level, the strength of your claim, and the health hazards you suffered from.
Firefighters and Air Force personnel must realize the adverse effects of AFFF and start to take precautionary measures. The best option is to reduce the exposure as much as possible by using the turnout gear only when necessary. Another option here is fluorine-free foam that will not lead to cancer and other fatal ailments linked with AFFF.
However, if people have already been affected by this toxic foam, it is a wise decision to seek both medical aid and a legal remedy to compensate for their loss and pain.