AFFF Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

This page discusses the link between AFFF firefighting foam and various types of cancer, which has led to thousands of AFFF lawsuits across the country.

If you have an AFFF cancer lawsuit and you want to understand your options, call us today for a free case evaluation at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

What is AFFF Firefighting Foam?

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) is utilized to combat fires involving flammable liquids, like shipboard fuel fires. Although it is water-based, it generates a foam that creates a film, cutting off the fire’s oxygen supply and extinguishing it. This is crucial because standard water alone is ineffective against oil and petroleum fires due to differing densities. Additionally, the film serves to prevent the fire from re-igniting spontaneously.

AFFF foam functions by cooling and smothering the fire while also separating it from the fuel source, making it highly efficient as a fire suppressant. However, the formulation of this foam has historically involved toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals, namely perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which belong to the group of per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These substances are notorious for their persistence in the environment, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Due to the acknowledged health risks associated with PFOS and PFOA, manufacturers have phased out their use in new AFFF formulations, though older stocks may still contain these chemicals. Former and retired firefighters, as well as military personnel involved in firefighting, are likely to have had significant exposure to these substances.

To address this concern, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed a roadmap to facilitate a transition to fluorine-free foams among firefighting agencies and to establish best practices for interim protection of firefighters. Several U.S. states and other countries, including Australia, have now prohibited the use of this type of AFFF foam.

Firefighters face additional exposure risks from household items and textiles that release similar chemicals when burned, further heightening exposure during fire suppression activities. Furthermore, individuals residing near military installations or working in industries using these chemicals may also be at risk.

AFFF Cancer Lawsuits

Numerous firefighters and their families, grappling with long-term health issues like cancer, have been filing product liability lawsuits against the companies that manufacture AFFF.

Military firefighters and personnel face the highest risk due to their frequent encounters with flammable liquid fires during training exercises and operations. Airport firefighters are also at heightened risk, as AFFF is frequently used to combat aviation fires that demand swift extinguishing.

The defendants named in the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are companies who manufactured and sold AFFF products. Firefighting foam has been manufactured and sold by a variety of different companies. DuPont and 3M were two of the biggest manufacturers of AFFF firefighting foam and are vital defendants in the current AFFF lawsuits.

Evidence has been uncovered that by the 1970s, manufacturers like 3M, DuPont, and others were already very much aware that the PFAS in their AFFF products were potentially toxic to the environment. Moreover, these companies became familiar in the 1990s that these chemicals were harmful to humans and that long-term exposure might be linked to cancer.

AFFF Class Action MDL

All AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits in federal courts have been consolidated into a “class action” MDL in the District of South Carolina. The AFFF MDL included both water contamination cases, and individual cancer cases. All of the water contamination cases were settled in August 2023.  As of April 2024, there are around 10,000 pending cases in the AFFF firefighting foam MDL.

Cancers Linked to AFFF

Scientific evidence has shown that the following types of cancer can be associated with exposure to AFFF firefighting foam:

  • Testicular Cancer – Among the most compelling connections is that between PFAS exposure and testicular cancer. The testes are highly sensitive to hormonal disruptions, and the endocrine-disrupting properties of PFAS are well-documented, suggesting a strong potential link to testicular carcinogenesis.  Defendants will struggle to argue that AFFF exposure cannot cause testicular cancer.
  • Prostate Cancer – Prostate cancer research has indicated a strong link with AFFF exposure, particularly due to the endocrine-disrupting properties of these chemicals, which can mimic or interfere with hormone functions, potentially fostering carcinogenic processes in hormone-sensitive tissues like the prostate.  Our lawyers have a lot of prostate cancer AFFF lawsuits.  Most people with prostate cancer do well and survive.  But as O.J. Simpson’s death reminds us, it can be a fatal disease.
  • Kidney Cancer – Given the kidney’s role in filtering and excreting toxins, the accumulation of PFAS in kidney tissues can be particularly concerning. Research has suggested that the increased burden on the kidneys from persistent chemicals like the PFAS in AFFF may lead to cellular damage and increase the risk of cancer.
  • Ovarian Cancer – While direct evidence linking ovarian cancer and AFFF exposure is still emerging, the hormonal disruption caused by PFAS suggests a plausible risk factor for ovarian tissues, which are sensitive to hormonal changes. There are fewer women firefighters to this links has not been as explored as well as it should.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other lymphomas have been linked to immune system disturbances, which can be exacerbated by PFAS exposure. The immunotoxic effects of PFAS likely contribute to lymphatic system dysfunctions, leading to increased cancer risk.
  • Pancreatic Cancer – Pancreatic cancer, while less directly studied in relation to PFAS, could be influenced by the systemic effects of these chemicals on metabolism and cellular function, given the pancreas’ role in metabolic and digestive processes. This is an awful type of cancer to have. While link between AFFF and pancreatic cancer many not be as overwhelming as some cancers, there is still solid evidence connecting the two we think these are strong lawsuits because how difficult the disease is.
  • Liver Cancer – Liver cancer risks may be elevated by PFAS due to the liver’s crucial role in detoxifying harmful substances. PFAS are known to cause hepatic stress and damage, potentially leading to carcinogenic changes.
  • Bladder Cancer – The accumulation of PFAS in the urine and their prolonged contact with the bladder lining can be a concerning factor for bladder cancer. This exposure route directly affects bladder cells and may increase cancer risks.
  • Breast Cancer – The potential link between PFAS exposure and breast cancer is especially alarming given the susceptibility of breast tissue to hormonal disruptions. PFAS can mimic estrogen, which is a known risk factor in the development of some forms of breast cancer.
  • Leukemia – The influence of PFAS on the immune system and blood cell production processes can extend to an increased risk of leukemia. These substances may induce changes in bone marrow, where blood cells are produced, potentially leading to malignant transformations.

If you are or were employed by a fire department, particularly with the Navy or at an airport where AFFF chemicals are routinely used in fire suppression efforts, and you or your physician suspect that AFFF exposure contributed to your diagnosis, you may have been exposed to AFFF foam. Those with repeated exposures over an extended duration often face the most severe health consequences.

Settlement Value of AFFF Cancer Lawsuits

Settlement of the AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuits is expected to occur through a mass tort global settlement. Typically, in such settlements, the defendants contribute a substantial amount to a settlement fund, which is then allocated to individual plaintiffs who opt to accept the settlement.

The compensation for individual plaintiffs is determined by a tiered ranking system. Those with stronger and more compelling AFFF cancer cases are placed in the top tier and receive higher settlement awards. Plaintiffs with less compelling cases are placed in lower tiers and receive comparatively lower compensation.

In the AFFF lawsuits, the top settlement tier is likely to include plaintiffs with extensive occupational exposure to AFFF and diagnosed with the more severe types of cancer linked to AFFF, such as kidney or pancreatic cancer. Plaintiffs in lower settlement tiers might encompass individuals with lesser occupational exposure or diagnoses of less severe forms of cancer associated with AFFF.

Drawing from previous mass tort cases involving cancer, our legal team estimates that AFFF firefighting foam cases in the top settlement tier may have a value ranging between $300,000 to $600,000. Cases in the second tier are anticipated to have an estimated value between $150,000 to $280,000. Third-tier cases might result in settlement payouts of $75,000 or less.

Contact Us About AFFF Lawsuits

If you have an AFFF lawsuit, call us today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

Contact Information