Aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”) is a product commonly known as firefighting foam and it has long been used to put out fires fueled by accelerants. AFFF contains high levels of PFAS and recent scientific studies have shown that prolonged exposure to PFAS can cause certain types of cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the diseases that has been specifically linked to occupational exposure to AFFF firefighting foam.
This page will look at AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits involving prostate cancer and their potential settlement value.
About AFFF Firefighting Foam
AFFF (“aqueous film-forming foam”) is a chemical based foam product that can be sprayed. AFFF is commonly known as firefighting foam because it is specifically engineered to put out high-intensity fires fueled by accelerants such as gasoline. AFFF firefighting foam contains very high levels of chemicals called PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances), better know as “forever chemicals.”
PFAS are highly resistant to extreme temperatures and not water soluble. These properties make PFAS very unique because they do not biodegrade or break down in the environment, which is where the name forever chemicals comes from. PFAS also do not easily break down in the metabolic system, which is why they are particularly toxic to the human body.
Evidence Links AFFF Firefighting Foam Exposure to Prostate Cancer
Over the 10-12 years, scientific studies have repeatedly established that occupational exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam can significantly increase the risk of certain types of cancer. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency published a health advisory warning about evidence showing a link between firefighting foam exposure and cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the cancer types that has been directly linked to long-term exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) sponsored a series of medical studies which concluded that chronic exposure to PFAS resulted in a significantly higher rate of prostate cancer. Similar findings linking prostate cancer to firefighting foam exposure have been made by studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society. As a result of these studies, both these organizations have named AFFF firefighting foam as a human carcinogen.
Who Was Exposed to AFFF Firefighting Foam?
AFFF firefighting foam was widely used for decades in the U.S. The link between prostate cancer and AFFF firefighting foam is based on “occupational” exposure to AFFF, which means frequent and regular exposure over long periods of time. Individual with occupational exposure to firefighting foam would include professional or volunteer firefighters who regularly used AFFF during training exercises.
The use of AFFF was not limited to firefighters. AFFF firefighting foam was commonly used by the military and thousands of military personnel may have been exposed to it regularly. In addition to the military, anyone working in environments where AFFF was used extensively would have occupational exposure. Examples include commercial airports, where fuel fires are a common risk, frequently used firefighting foam during safety and emergency response training exercises. Similarly, industrial facilities, especially those dealing with flammable substances, also used AFFF regularly as a part of their fire safety protocols.
AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuits
Over the last several years, thousands of AFFF firefighting foam product liability lawsuits have been filed across the country. The AFFF lawsuits can be grouped into 2 separate categories: water contamination cases and individual cancer cases.
The water contamination cases have been brought by local governments alleging that AFFF contaminated their drinking water supplies. In August 2023, the water contamination cases in the class action were settled. Under the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay over $10 billion to compensate for pollution of water supply systems.
The AFFF cases alleging cancer from occupational exposure are still pending in the MDL. These cases have been brought primarily by firefighters and other with occupational exposure to AFFF who were later diagnosed with cancer.
About Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men and one of the most commonly occurring cancer types overall. Each year in the U.S., around 280,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the fourth most common type of cancer overall.
Prostate cancer usually occurs in men when they are over the age of 60, making age the leading risk factor for prostate cancer. Race is also a risk factor. Black men in the U.S. have a 70% higher incidence rate of prostate cancer compared to white men.
Prostate cancer is highly treatable and the long-term outcome for prostate cancer are very good. The overall 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer (including all stages) is 97%. Most prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages, which is one of the primary reasons that prostate cancer has such a high survival rate.
AFFF Prostate Cancer Lawsuits
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.
Settlement Value of AFFF Prostate Cancer Cases
The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits will eventually be resolved in a global settlement, which is very common in mass tort cases. In a global settlement, the defendants contribute a large sum of money into a settlement fund to pay settlements to individual plaintiffs based on a tiered ranking system. Plaintiffs in the higher settlement tiers get the most compensation.
In the AFFF lawsuits, the top settlement tier will probably be for plaintiffs with long-term occupational exposure to AFFF and diagnosis with one of the more dangerous cancer types that have been linked to AFFF (e.g., kidney cancer or pancreatic cancer). AFFF plaintiffs in lower settlement tiers would include people with less occupational exposure or a diagnosis of less severe types of cancer.
AFFF prostate cancer cases will be in one of the lower settlement tiers and could have an average payout value between $150,000 to $350,000. The reason for this is primarily because prostate cancer has a much better prognosis compared to some of the other cancers linked to AFFF (e.g., pancreatic and kidney). Prostate cancer is one of the least deadly and most treatable types of cancer. The overall 10-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 97%.
File an AFFF Firefighting Foam Prostate Cancer Lawsuit
Miller & Zois is currently accepting new AFFF firefighting foam cases involving prostate cancer. Contact our AFFF class action lawyers today to get your case started. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.