AFFF Kidney Cancer Lawsuits

Aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”) is generally known as firefighting foam and it has been used for decades to combat fires fueled by accelerants. AFFF contains high levels of chemicals called PFAS and recent research has shown that occupational exposure to PFAS can cause certain types of cancer. Kidney cancer is one of the diseases that has been scientifically linked to occupational exposure to AFFF firefighting foam.

This page will look at AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits involving kidney cancer and their potential settlement value.


AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam, is a type of firefighting foam extensively used to combat fuel fires, especially in military and aviation settings. The foam spreads easily over fires, cutting off the oxygen supply and rapidly extinguishing the flames.

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are a group of man-made chemicals used in a wide range of products for their water- and grease-resistant properties. PFAS can be found in AFFF, non-stick cookware, food packaging, water-repellent clothing, and more.

Over time, it has been discovered that PFAS can persist in the environment and the human body, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”  Studies have indicated potential links between exposure to PFAS and an array of health problems. Among them, the heightened risk of kidney cancer has been a primary concern. It’s believed that the kidney, given its role in filtering and eliminating substances from the body, can accumulate these chemicals, leading to potential damage and increased cancer risk. A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that firefighters who were exposed to AFFF were more likely to develop kidney cancer than firefighters who were not exposed to AFFF.  The study followed 30,000 firefighters for 20 years. The researchers found that firefighters who were exposed to AFFF were 2.7 times more likely to develop kidney cancer than firefighters who were not exposed to AFFF.

So it seems clear that workers in certain industries, especially firefighters who frequently use AFFF, and people living near military bases or airports where AFFF has been heavily used, are at an increased risk for kidney cnacer due to higher exposure levels.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Linked to Kidney Cancer

A growing body of scientific evidence has developed over the last decade which shows 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.

Kidney 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 kidney cancer. Similar findings linking kidney 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.

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer, commonly known as renal cancer, emerges from the kidneys, our body’s two bean-shaped powerhouses responsible for filtering waste from our bloodstream to create urine. There are various types of kidney cancers, each with its own characteristics and behavior.

Types of Kidney Cancer

The most prevalent among these is Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), which originates in the lining of the tiny tubes responsible for filtering and cleaning the blood in our kidneys. Notably, RCC has several subtypes, such as clear cell RCC, known for its distinct appearance under the microscope, and papillary RCC, which forms finger-like projections in the kidney’s tubules.

Transitional Cell Carcinomas, on the other hand, are cancers that start at the point where the kidney connects to the ureter, behaving and being treated similarly to bladder cancers.

For children, Wilms Tumor is the most common kidney cancer, requiring different treatment than adult kidney cancers. Then, there’s the rare Renal Sarcoma, which originates from the blood vessels or connective tissue of the kidney.

Risk Factors

Several factors can heighten the risk of developing kidney cancer. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and exposure to chemicals like asbestos or cadmium top the list. Additionally, those with certain inherited syndromes, a family history of kidney cancer, or chronic kidney disease may be more susceptible. Undergoing treatment for kidney failure, like dialysis, can also increase the risk.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

While kidney cancer often remains silent in its early stages, as it advances, it might manifest through blood in the urine, back pain, weight loss, fatigue, intermittent fever, or even a palpable lump in the abdomen or side.

Diagnosing Kidney Cancer

To pinpoint kidney cancer, doctors might recommend blood and urine tests, imaging tests like CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds, or even a biopsy where a kidney tissue sample is extracted for lab testing.

Treatment Approaches

The most frequent treatment for kidney cancer is surgery, often involving the removal of part or the entire affected kidney. Targeted therapies have emerged, utilizing drugs to attack specific components of kidney cancer cells, thus impeding their growth. Immunotherapy leverages the body’s natural defense system to combat the disease, while radiation therapy targets cancer cells with high-powered energy beams. Alternatively, ablation techniques can be used to destroy kidney tumors using extreme temperatures.

AFFF Kidney Cancer Lawsuits

Kidney cancer is one of the diseases that has been specifically linked to chronic exposure to PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam. Individuals who were diagnosed with kidney cancer after years of regular exposure to firefighting foam have filed AFFF lawsuits. The evidence linking kidney cancer to AFFF exposure is particularly strong in comparison to other types of cancer. This makes AFFF kidney cancer claims very good cases.

Settlement Value of AFFF Kidney 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. AFFF plaintiffs in lower settlement tiers would include people with less occupational exposure or a diagnosis of less severe types of cancer.

AFFF kidney cancer cases will be in one of the highest settlement tiers and could have an average payout value between $100,000 to $400,000. There are two reasons why AFFF kidney cancer cases will likely be in the top tier. First, the causation evidence connecting kidney cancer to AFFF exposure is very solid. Second, kidney cancer is worse than some of the other types of cancer that are linked to AFFF exposure, such as prostate cancer.

File an AFFF Firefighting Foam Kidney Cancer Lawsuit

Miller & Zois is currently accepting new AFFF firefighting foam cases involving kidney cancer. Contact our AFFF class action lawyers today to get your case started. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

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