According to a Forbes report, in March 2023, President Biden spoke to a firefighting union. It had been more than twenty years since a president had addressed this union. The IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) organized a rally urging Congress to eliminate PFAS from their security gear. They want consolidated funds for secure options.
The three-layer firefighter’s protective gear should keep them secure from water, heat, and flames. However, PFAS present in firefighting foam has resulted in an increased number of cancers in firefighters. Speaking about this, Edward Kelley, the general president, asserted that the thing that should keep firefighters safe is what is making them fall ill.
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Dangers of PFAS and Legal Actions Against It
The PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) chemicals have posed massive hazards nationwide. It has resulted in several lawsuits, and attempts are made to resolve environmental after-effects. The toxic chemical gets used in airports as firefighting foam and also in oil refineries. It is also common in several consumer products, from makeup to raincoats.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), exposure to PFAS can increase the chances of people suffering from certain cancers. It can also result in increased cholesterol levels and lower liver function.
3M is an industrial giant and one of the biggest PFAS-based firefighting foam producers in the U.S. The company makes about $1.3 billion in revenue. The company declared that it will halt producing PFAS by 2025. Individually, the company obtained a $850 million settlement in Minnesota for the damages that occurred to natural resources and drinking water.
Hence, litigation related to the use and production of PFAS has been in rising in the federal and state courts in the U.S. Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS has been studied and researched to understand how it leads to severe health concerns.
Some people even go ahead and file a Firefighter Foam Cancer Lawsuit after suffering due to the chemicals. Recently, a number of such lawsuits have been on the rise. As a result, the extent of the plaintiff’s problems, too, has gone up, thereby shifting from places where the chemical gets manufactured to certain places that use PFAS, such as air bases.
According to TorHoerman Law, a personal injury law firm, victims of firefighting foam exposure should get medical and legal representation. Lawyers can help victims gather all evidence, analyze the medical records, and guide them through a legal process.
PFAS Has Made People Suffer from Health Issues Enormously
Ben Brickhouse had a late career start. At 41, he went for a vacation to Asheville and loved the place. He decided to reside there and work as a firefighter. But all his plans of working at a stretch for 20 years and happily retiring at 61 went for a toss when he went for a routine check-up in 2020.
His medical reports highlighted PSA (prostate-specific antigen) at high levels, which is an indicator of prostate cancer. As the disease was confirmed, he had to remove his prostate. He says that he thought after surgery, he would heal and resume work, but things became critical.
After his surgery, the PFA levels went to zero and started increasing again. That meant the cancer had reached lymph nodes. Ben needed proton radiation therapy and Lupron hormonal treatments that put an end to his firefighting career. This incident confirms the link between AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) and cancer.
What Are the Types of Cancer Caused by PFAS?
One of the common damage and injuries that firefighters with AFFF exposure suffer from is cancer. More research is being carried on to come up with a better analysis.
Simply put, firefighters can be exposed to the PFAS in the firefighting foam merely by inhaling it. Exposure can happen through skin contact with the polluted surface or device. While extinguishing fires, people tend to inhale toxic chemicals rather unknowingly.
A few kinds of cancer caused by PFAS include:
- Testicular cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Neuroendocrine tumors
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Liver cancer
Other health hazards associated with PFAS can be birth defects in children, immune suppression, and liver damage in adults.
Currently, it is necessary to focus on non-toxic and safe alternatives for firefighting foam that has PFAS. Dry agent chemicals and Fluorine-Free Firefighting Foam seem to be the best alternatives so far that do not result in health hazards.
However, people who have suffered and are suffering from PFAS exposure must get legal representation to get compensated for their loss. The settlement money will vary from one person to the other based on the severity of the ailments.