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AFFF Cancer Lawsuits

Beginning back in the early 1960’s, the United States Navy was in the market for a new, efficient and powerful fire suppressant containing the unique chemical properties of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, which could be utilized during training sessions as a way to extinguish extremely flammable liquids and complex fuel fires that personnel could potentially encounter in a live combat situation. Enter 3M. As one of the largest manufacturers of consumer goods and textiles in the world, a business partnership with 3M was seemingly a natural choice for the Navy, so for the next six years this unlikely duo collaborated and eventually created aqueous film forming foams, or AFFFs, for short.

Firefighters using aqueous film forming foam or AFFF

Brief History of AFFFs

In 1966, the U.S. Navy applied for and was granted a patent for its aqueous film forming foams from the United States Patent Office, however, usage of these AFFFs were still an uncommon practice for most of the military until later that same year when a deadly, uncontainable fire broke out aboard the USS Forrestal and claimed the lives of 34 sailors. Shortly after this tragic accident occurred, AFFFs were warmly welcomed by the U.S. Department of Defense including all branches of the military, and was distributed by 3M and DuPont to commercial airports, chemical plants, municipal fire departments, and oil refineries throughout the country where it quickly became the industry’s standard for combating complex, petroleum-based fires.

The Discovery of Cancer

Business continued in this manner until 1973 when officials with the United States Air Force started to voice their concerns regarding the toxic effects manifesting in soldiers after their exposure to AFFFs while performing their daily duties. The perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) that are used in the manufacturing process of aqueous film forming foams are man-made compounds specifically designed to be resistant to heat, grease, oil, and water - which is why the United States Navy wanted to incorporate PFAS in the first place. However, their claims went unaddressed by the government and manufacturers for years, and it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that they were able to scientifically prove their theory when they tested AFFFs on lab animals and discovered hazardous, cancer-causing carcinogens from the PFAS within the foam.

Too Little, Too Late

Decades later when the U.S. EPA released a report regarding the intention to reduce the amount of PFAS in the environment, the U.S. Department of Defense finally issued a formal alert surrounding the usage of aqueous film forming foams and the potential “human health and environmental risks” they may pose to individuals who are exposed to it. But the damage had already been done. Career firefighters, military personnel, and additional industrial workers from all over the United States had been using this fire-fighting technique for decades, unknowingly exposing themselves to toxic, cancer-causing chemicals every time they clocked in.

AFFF Cancer Litigation

Within the recent years, both current and retired firefighters have been diagnosed with a devastating assault of serious illnesses and injuries due to their daily, prolonged contact and exposure to the toxic, cancerous carcinogens in the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals used to manufacture the aqueous film-forming foams. On January 19th, 2021, over 950 product liability injury claims were brought forward by current and former firefighters throughout multiple districts in South Carolina against manufacturing titans 3M, Dupont, and Chemours - a “spin-off” company of DuPont. Court documents indicate that firefighters are alleging that these particular companies were aware that their aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) contained hazardous and toxic, cancer-causing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), but still continued production and distribution of the popular fire-fighting agent for decades. Additionally, firefighters are claiming that they have developed a series of life-threatening cancers, including:

  • Bladder cancer/bladder carcinoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cysts & cancer
  • Liver (hepatic) cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer/prostatic carcinoma
  • Severe testicular pain & testicular cancer
  • ...as well as thyroid diseases & disorders, tumors, and ulcerative colitis

Compensation & Legal Representation

If you have been diagnosed with cancer after working with AFFF firefighting foam or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), you may be entitled to compensation for lost employment wages, past & future medical bills, and mental anguish and suffering. It is imperative that you speak to a dedicated, hard-working, and knowledgeable attorney to help navigate you through these incredibly difficult times.

Since 1977, Florida product liability lawyer James O. Cunningham has been helping victims receive fair & just compensation for their injuries. For additional information regarding AFFF lawsuits or to schedule a free 30-minute case evaluation, please submit a contact form on our website or call our firm today at 877-FL-INJURY.

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