Published on:

Who Qualifies for an AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit?

On this page we will explain who might be eligible to file an AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuit. We will explain what qualifying criteria our firm is using to screen AFFF cases and we will also discuss what the primary injuries are in the AFFF cases.

About the AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

AFFF stands for Aqueous Film-Forming Foam. It is a type of firefighting foam that is used to suppress flammable liquid fires, particularly those involving hydrocarbons. AFFF contains water, fluorochemical surfactants, and other additives. The foam works by forming a thin film on the surface of the flammable liquid, creating a barrier that separates the fuel from the air and suppresses the release of flammable vapors.

AFFF was commonly used in firefighting situations where there is a risk of fuel fires, such as those involving gasoline, oil, or jet fuels. It was often used in various industries, including aviation, petrochemical, and military applications. The ability of AFFF to quickly and effectively suppress flammable liquid fires makes it a valuable tool in firefighting efforts. All AFFF products contain  high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals, commonly known as “forever chemicals”, have recently been shown to cause serious health hazards.

Over the last decade, a growing body of clinical and scientific research has definitively shown that long term exposure to the PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam can cause various types of cancer. Specifically, chronic exposure to AFFF foam has been linked to higher rates of thyroid, kidney, bladder, testicular, prostate and colon cancers.

Who is Eligible to File an AFFF Lawsuit?

In order to file an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit and participate in any future global settlement in the class action MDL, prospective plaintiffs must meet certain basic criteria. Our firm’s current AFFF lawsuit eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • 1-Year of AFFF Exposure: To be eligible to file an AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit, you must be able to show that you were regularly and directly exposed to AFF for a minimum of 1-year. Regular and direct exposure means that you worked with AFFF foam on a frequent basis as part of your occupation. Occupational exposure to AFFF could occur if you were a fire fighter or if you worked in the aviation industry or were in the military.
  • Diagnosis With Qualifying Disease: The second eligibility requirement for an AFFF lawsuit is that you must be able to show that sometime after your regular and direct exposure to AFFF firefighting foam, you were diagnosed with one of the 6 qualifying diseases (cancer types) that have been scientifically linked to AFFF. These are thyroid, kidney, bladder, testicular, prostate and colon cancers.

Primary Injuries in AFFF Lawsuits

The primary injuries being alleged by plaintiffs in the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are the half dozen types of cancer that have been directly linked to occupational exposure to AFFF. Each of these 6 cancers are discussed briefly below.

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism. Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other types of cancer, but its incidence has been increasing in recent years. The evidence linking AFFF exposure to thyroid cancer is stronger than any other type of cancer.

There are several types of thyroid cancer, with the most common being papillary thyroid carcinoma. Other types include follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Each type has its own characteristics and prognosis. The symptoms of thyroid cancer can vary, and in many cases, there may be no noticeable symptoms early on. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include a lump or swelling in the neck, changes in voice, difficulty swallowing, and persistent throat discomfort.

The prognosis for thyroid cancer is generally favorable, especially when detected and treated early. Many individuals with thyroid cancer can achieve a complete recovery. Regular follow-up monitoring is often recommended to check for any recurrence.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, also known as renal cancer, originates in the kidneys, which are vital organs responsible for filtering waste products and excess fluids from the blood to form urine. Kidney cancer can develop in the small tubes of the kidneys, leading to the formation of tumors. Kidney cancer has one of the most well-documented causal connections to AFFF exposure.

There are several different subtypes of kidney cancer. The most common type of kidney cancer in adults is renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which accounts for the majority of cases. Other less common types include transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms tumor (mainly affecting children), and renal sarcoma.

Kidney cancer may not present noticeable symptoms in its early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include blood in the urine, persistent pain or pressure in the back or side, a lump or mass in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.

The prognosis for kidney cancer varies based on factors like the stage at which it is diagnosed and the type of cancer. Early detection often leads to more successful outcomes. In cases where the cancer has spread beyond the kidneys, treatment may focus on managing the disease and alleviating symptoms. In the AFFF litigation, kidney cancer is going to be one of the highest value injuries because it has strong causation evidence and is comparatively worse than other types of cancer.

Bladder Cancer

Evidence has shown that individuals with occupational exposure to AFFF firefighting foam have a significantly higher rate of bladder cancer compared to those without AFFF exposure.  Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells lining the bladder, the organ responsible for storing urine. It is a common cancer, and its incidence increases with age.

The majority of bladder cancers are transitional cell carcinomas, which begin in the urothelial cells lining the bladder. Other types include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, but these are less common. Common symptoms of bladder cancer may include blood in the urine (hematuria), frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, and lower back pain. These symptoms can vary, and some individuals may not experience noticeable signs in the early stages. The outlook and survival rate for bladder cancer varies based on the stage at diagnosis and the effectiveness of the chosen treatment. Early detection often leads to better outcomes. Regular follow-up monitoring is crucial for individuals who have undergone treatment to detect and manage any potential recurrence.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the testicles, the male reproductive organs responsible for producing sperm and testosterone. It is a relatively rare form of cancer, but it is actually the most common cancer in males aged 15 to 35. Research has shown that men with chronic exposure to the PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam are at increased risk of developing testicular cancer. This puts testicular cancer squarely in the AFFF litigation.

The two main types of testicular cancer are seminomas and non-seminomas. Seminomas tend to grow more slowly and respond well to radiation therapy, while non-seminomas are more aggressive and often require a combination of treatments. Common symptoms of testicular cancer may include a painless lump or swelling in the testicle, changes in testicle size or shape, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, and discomfort or pain in the testicle or scrotum. It’s important to note any unusual changes and seek medical attention promptly.

No type of cancer is “good” but testicular cancer is certainly “less bad” than some of the other cancer types that have been linked to AFFF exposure. Testicular cancer is highly treatable, and the prognosis is often favorable, especially when detected early. The survival rate is very high, even for advanced cases.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the types of cancer that has been linked to exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam. Individuals who were diagnosed with prostate cancer after years of regular exposure to firefighting foam have filed AFFF lawsuits. Prostate cancer is one of most common injuries alleged in the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits. This is partly because prostate cancer is a very common type of cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among men and also one of the most common cancer types overall. Annually in the United States, approximately 280,000 men receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, ranking it as the fourth most commonly encountered cancer.

Typically, prostate cancer manifests in men aged 60 and older, with age being the predominant risk factor. Additionally, race plays a role, with Black men in the U.S. experiencing a 70% higher incidence rate of prostate cancer compared to their white counterparts.

The encouraging news is that prostate cancer is highly treatable, boasting excellent long-term outcomes. The 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer, encompassing all stages, stands at an impressive 97%. Early detection plays a pivotal role in this high survival rate, with the majority of prostate cancer cases being identified in their initial stages. This underscores the significance of proactive screening and timely medical intervention in managing and treating prostate cancer effectively.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the colon or rectum, both of which are parts of the large intestine. It is a significant health concern and ranks as the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death.

Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is the third most common cancer in the United States, and its impact is substantial. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment and improved outcomes. The prognosis for colon cancer varies based on factors like the stage at diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatment. Early detection is associated with higher survival rates. Regular follow-up monitoring is essential to detect and manage any potential recurrence.

Contact Us About an AFFF Lawsuit

We are currently accepting new AFFF firefighting foam cases in all 50 states. Contact our AFFF class actions lawyers today at 888-322-3010 or contact us online.

Scientific Articles on AFFF Exposure and Cancer

Rosenfeld, Paul E., et al. “Perfluoroalkyl substances exposure in firefighters: Sources and implications.Environmental Research 220 (2023): 115164.  Firefighters are at risk from chemicals called PFASs, which are found in a special foam they use to put out fires. This foam, known as AFFF, is really good at stopping fires with flammable liquids, but it has PFASs that can stay in the body for a long time and build up. Firefighters have been found to have more of these PFASs in their blood than other people. These chemicals are tough and don’t break down easily in the environment. Some studies suggest that PFASs might cause cancer, and firefighters who are exposed to them might have a higher risk of getting cancers like thyroid, kidney, bladder, testicular, prostate, and colon cancer. This is important because it means firefighters could be getting sick from the foam they use at work. The paper talks about how much PFASs are in firefighters’ blood, how these chemicals can get into their bodies, and how their job makes it more likely for them to be exposed to these chemicals. It’s a big deal because it affects the health of firefighters and could lead to more research on how to keep them safe.

Ojo, A. F., et al. (2022). Toxicity assessment of historical aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) using cell-based assays. Environmental Pollution, 310, 119806. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119806. Epub 2022 Jul 19. PMID: 35868471. This study looked at how toxic old firefighting foams  are.  Researchers tested two kinds of AFFFs on human liver cells to see how they affected cell health, oxidative stress, and DNA. They found that both foams could be harmful to the cells, even in small amounts. The 3M Light Water foam was more harmful than the Ansulite foam.

Purdue MP et al. A nested case–control study of serum per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and testicular germ cell tumors among U.S. Air Force servicemenEnviron Health Perspect. 2023.  This study examined the relationship between chemicals called PFAS (found in firefighting foams) and testicular cancer in U.S. Air Force servicemen. Researchers used a case-control approach, comparing servicemen with testicular cancer to those without, to assess PFAS levels in their blood. They found that higher levels of a specific PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, PFOS) were linked to an increased risk of testicular cancer, especially in blood samples taken later in their careers. This suggests a potential health risk for servicemen exposed to these chemicals, particularly those involved in firefighting.

A A Stec, A Robinson, T A M Wolffe, E Bagkeris, Scottish Firefighters Occupational Cancer and Disease Mortality Rates: 2000-2020Occupational Medicine, Volume 73, Issue 1, January 2023. This study investigated the mortality rates from cancer and other diseases among Scottish firefighters compared to the general male population in Scotland from 2000 to 2020. The findings showed a significantly higher risk of death from certain cancers (such as prostate cancer and myeloid leukaemia) and diseases (like heart diseases and renal failure) for firefighters. This increase suggests a potential link between their occupation and these health risks.