Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), often referred to as “firefighting foam,” is a substance that has long been used to extinguish petroleum or oil-based fires. Many members of the military, firefighters, and airport workers have been exposed to AFFF for years or even decades—and since 2016, the EPA, CDC, and American Cancer Society have each issued warnings to consumers about the connection between AFFF and certain types of cancers.

Those who have been exposed to AFFF and later developed cancer may be entitled to a cash settlement from the main manufacturers of AFFF—3M and DuPont. Currently, there are thousands of AFFF lawsuits pending, many of which were recently consolidated into a multi-district federal lawsuit. Who should file an AFFF lawsuit, and what should you know before pursuing legal action?

Who Should File an AFFF Lawsuit?

What is AFFF?

Aqueous film forming foam is a type of firefighting foam that is designed to extinguish fuel-based fires—those that don’t respond well to water or water-based firefighting foams. AFFF contains chemical substances known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, which don’t biodegrade and may build up in the body over time. PFAS chemicals have been linked to various types of cancer.

The AFFF Lawsuit

After the connection between AFFF and cancer was made clear, many of those who had long-term AFFF exposure and later developed cancer sued 3M, DuPont, and other firefighting foam manufacturers in state and federal courts. These firefighting foam cancer lawsuits alleged that the manufacturers had been well aware for decades that AFFF posed a risk to those who used it, but failed to warn consumers and businesses about the risks or instruct them to take appropriate precautions when working with AFFF.

The federal lawsuits have been consolidated into a single multi-district litigation (MDL).

Generally, plaintiffs receiving settlement amounts from the AFFF settlement will include:

  • Those who were exposed to fire-fighting foam over a period of decades including those who lived or worked on military bases.
  • Those whose cancer or other illness diagnosis prevented them from working or caused them to accrue significant medical bills such as ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, or a permanent disability.
  • Those who have a serious and tough-to-treat type of cancer like:
    • Kidney cancer
    • Testicular cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Thyroid cancer
    • Thyroid disease (i.e., hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism)           
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)

Occupations That Have Been Exposed to AFFF

Anyone who has been exposed to AFFF for an extended period is at a higher risk than others of developing PFAS-associated cancers. However, there are certain occupations that are at a heightened cancer risk of AFFF exposure. These include:

  • Military Personnel (both current and former members)
  • Those who worked on a military base as a contractor
  • Civilian firefighters and Military firefighters
  • Airport workers
  • Chemical industry workers
  • Oil rig and petroleum processing workers

Though the term “firefighting foam” is often used interchangeably with AFFF, the military actually has the broadest exposure to AFFF. Those who served in the Middle East are especially likely to have been exposed to AFFF. Additionally, anyone working on offshore platforms or around industrial sites that had petroleum-based fires could have been exposed to the chemicals in firefighting foam.

Occupational exposure to toxic chemicals is more common than first understood. PFAS have been found when testing the water supply where exposure to firefighting foam is high. Additionally, scientific research has shown that PFAS have the potential to persist in the environment and in the human body for an undetermined length of time, increasing the risk of potential health concerns for firefighters, military personnel, and those with direct AFFF MDL exposure.

How the Ferraro Law Firm Can Help

The Ferraro Law Firm has a national reputation for handling toxic tort lawsuits, including AFFF lawsuits. The lawyers at The Ferraro Law Firm are here to help you navigate this evolving lawsuit, providing you with the guidance and direction you need to ensure your case is handled professionally. To schedule your free consultation, please complete the form and one of our experienced attorneys will quickly be in touch.

Frequently Asked Questions: AFFFs

  • Is AFFF Toxic?
  • What Are the Health Effects of PFAS?
  • Are PFAS Still Used?
  • What Should You Do if Your AFFF Exposure Caused Illness?
  • Who Qualifies for AFFF Settlements?
  • How long do I have to file an AFFF lawsuit?
  • How high is my risk of cancer from AFFF exposure?