In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urged U.S. airports to restrict the use of fighting foam having PFAS. The chemical resulted in public health and environmental risks. The FAA further emphasized the need for probable alternatives.
PFAS is called “forever chemicals” as it doesn’t easily break down. It also results in multiple diseases, like kidney cancer. It has been used for several years in most households as water-resistant textiles, non-stick cookware, food packaging, rugs, industrial products, and photo imaging.
Currently, several states have outlawed using PFAS for packaging food. According to the FAA, over 400 research studies were conducted that analyzed 15 fluorine-free fighting foam products. The FAA wants to choose a replacement product and adopt it.
Both the Defense Department and the FAA are actively researching alternative ways for extinguishing fuel fires or any other emergencies.
Understanding Forever Chemicals
Simply put, “forever chemicals” have been in use globally since the 1940s. It includes per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a collective name that refers to fluorinated compounds. By nature, it is ubiquitous.
According to a report by the Environmental Agency, owing to long-time use, it has caused severe environmental contamination. The chemicals are considered toxic to human health.
What is AFFF Foam?
AFFF (Aqueous film-forming foams) is a foam with a synthetic base for extinguishing combustible or flammable liquid fuel fires, like blazes, including gas and oil. It’s known as the Class B fires
3M, a chemical giant, developed AFFF back in 1960, way before it got used by Fire Departments globally for the extinction of liquid fuel fires. The substances also got used by the fire brigades for their training exercises.
However, today this substance has been proven to be fatal by the global community because of the “forever chemicals.”
The 2023 Update for AFFF Class Action Lawsuit
As of May 3, 2023, the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) published brand new research about the PFAS in devices that firefighters use. It analyzed 20 various textiles that got included in the gear production.
Based on the findings, every textile had 1 to 17 PFAS. The outer layers included high concentrations. The data will help companies to create secure gear. It will also help them to understand if PFAS can get transferred to the firefighter’s bodies from the devices, leading to cancer risk.
The firefighting foam lawsuit defendants must have conducted this research for years. It could have saved several firefighters from cancer. Today, several of them have taken legal action against the PFAS manufacturers. They claim that the chemicals have caused cancer and other health hazards.
TorHoerman Law, a personal injury law firm, states that firefighters, airport workers, and any military personnel who have suffered from PFAS should file a legal case and get compensated. The lawyers in the firm help victims with a legal consultation with no obligation.
The law firm shares that the statute of limitation for AFFF lawsuits can get prolonged to the date when an individual has found the connection between the products they used and the medical diagnosis.
The Dangerous Health Hazards of Firefighting Foam
Recently, the European Commission has allocated the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) to investigate the health and environmental risks caused by PFAS present in firefighting foams.
According to a March 2022 report, evidence suggests that PFAS results in aggravating health conditions in humans. To add to this claim, the US EPA emphasizes studies that comprise the long-chain species of PFOA and PFOS causing developmental, reproductive, kidney, liver, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have resulted in tumors in animal studies.
Both the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states PFAS cause health problems like:
- A rise in cholesterol
- Children not responding well to vaccination
- Preeclampsia and increased blood pressure in pregnant women
- Changes in the immune system
- Reduction of an infant’s birth weight
- Thyroid disorders
- Abnormalities in the liver enzymes
- A bigger chance of kidney and testicular cancer
Furthermore, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) recognized PFAS as carcinogenic for humans and animals. They have carried out many studies which prove that PFAS has led to prostate and kidney cancer to a huge extent. Therefore, AFFF is an occupational hazard resulting in health hazards and causing deaths due to increased exposure. Other than this, PFAS also results in birth defects and can increase the risk of asthma.
Apart from causing fatal cancers and ailments in humans, PFAS in firefighting foam can harm wildlife too. It comprises fish humans catch and consume. People who are already affected by this toxic chemical should seek medical and legal aid without delay.
The ideal way to steer clear of health and environmental hazards is to choose safer and better alternatives. The best options here include dry chemical agents, fluorine-free fire fighting foam, and C6 firefighting foam concentrates.