The Push for Proactive Health Screening Post-Exposure to AFFF

For decades, military and civilian firefighters have relied heavily on aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to fight fires. However, evidence is increasingly indicating that exposure to AFFF is linked to major health risks. The rise in …


For decades, military and civilian firefighters have relied heavily on aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to fight fires. However, evidence is increasingly indicating that exposure to AFFF is linked to major health risks. The rise in firefighting foam lawsuits accuses manufacturers like Tyco, 3M, Dupont, and others of mishandling toxic chemicals.

While the legal battle rages on, victims must prioritize mitigating the effects of firefighter foam exposure. Proactive health screenings are critical for addressing the health risks associated with AFFF exposure.

Let us walk you through why you need to get immediate medical screenings after being exposed to firefighter foam.

The Dangers of AFFF

AFFF is a synthetic, water-based surfactant that works as a Class B foam to extinguish gasoline fires. However, modern AFFF formulations include fluorinated surfactants like perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

These synthetic compounds are known as “forever chemicals” because they are extremely persistent in the environment and the human body. They resist degradation due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, resulting in long-term contamination of the environment and living organisms. This persistence poses significant health and environmental risks, with potential adverse effects from even low-level exposure.

Health Risks of AFFF Exposure

A negative impact on human health has been linked to exposure to PFAS chemicals. Some examples are:

  • Increased risk of certain cancers, such as testicular cancer, and cancers of the kidneys and bladder
  • Liver damage
  • High cholesterol
  • Thyroid disease
  • Immune system effects
  • Reproductive issues, including infertility and low birth weight

The Importance of Proactive Health Screening Post-Exposure to AFFF

The effects of PFAs may take months or years to show. However, this lasts long as the chemicals persist in bodies and environments. This necessitates proactive health screening for those exposed to firefighter foam. It ensures early detection and, therefore, increased chances for a cure.

Recommended Screenings

The specific screenings for those exposed to firefighting foam depend on exposure levels and medical history. However, given the health risks associated with PFAS exposure, the following screenings can be recommended:

  • Cancer screenings: Screening for kidney cancer typically involves imaging tests such as CT scans or renal ultrasounds. It is particularly important for those at higher risk due to family history. However, there are no routine screening tests for the general population. Testicular cancer screenings include self-exams and clinical exams.
  • Liver function tests: These tests are crucial for detecting liver abnormalities early on. They can assess liver enzyme levels, which indicate liver health.
  • Cholesterol tests: High cholesterol is another possible side effect of PFAS exposure. Regular lipid profiles, which include measuring cholesterol levels, are advised since PFAS exposure has been linked to cholesterol metabolism disturbances.
  • Thyroid function tests: Screening involves measuring thyroid hormone levels to assess thyroid gland function, which can be affected by PFAS exposure.
  • Immune function tests: Exposure to PFAS has been linked to diminished activity across various types of immune cells, not just T-cells. This broader immunosuppression can make individuals more vulnerable to a range of infectious diseases. Regular immune function tests can help address these issues.

These screenings can aid in planning how to reduce future exposure. Furthermore, TorHoerman Law states that health issues from firefighter foam exposure can qualify victims to file for compensation claims. 

The AFFF Lawsuits

The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits have been consolidated into MDL 2873, a multi-district litigation. The lawsuits allege that prolonged use or exposure to certain chemicals in firefighting foam can lead to various types of cancer. As of February 2024, the AFFF lawsuits were still growing, with over 6,400 plaintiffs in the MDL. AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts range from $40,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on case strength and other factors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical settlement amount in AFFF-related hypothyroidism cases?

Victims of AFFF-related hypothyroidism can expect to receive settlements ranging from $300,000 to $450,000. Compensation depends on the severity of thyroid dysfunction and previous exposure to firefighting foam in these cases.

What are the settlement projections for kidney cancer caused by AFFF exposure?

Settlement projections for kidney cancer caused by AFFF exposure range from $40,000 to more than $300,000. Settlement amounts are influenced by the legal case’s strength and the extent of firefighting foam exposure.

How is compensation calculated in AFFF lawsuits?

In AFFF lawsuits, compensation is calculated based on factors that assess the impact of exposure on the plaintiff’s health. These factors comprise the degree of exposure to the firefighting foam and the severity and type of health conditions diagnosed. Additionally, the financial impact is considered, including lost wages, future and current medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

How can an attorney assist in an AFFF lawsuit?

An attorney or an experienced legal professional can guide you to initiate a solid case. They collect essential information to support the claim and aggressively seek monetary compensation for the resulting physical and emotional suffering.

The firefighting foam lawsuits highlight the importance of proactive health screening following AFFF exposure. This can lead to better treatment outcomes and the possibility of financial compensation via an AFFF lawsuit. Remember, you have the right to receive compensation for any harm caused by exposure to toxic substances like firefighter foam.

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