Firefighter Well-being: How Our Heroes Live on the Edge as AFFF Lawsuit Continues

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AFFF Lawsuit

Think of a job where your life is constantly in danger. Every second matters. Threats seen and heard. But what about the invisible dangers?

There are always risks involved. The stakes seem that much higher when you’re a firefighter.

Statista figures showed about 96 firefighters died in the US in 2022. The NFPA further reported that 38 of them were career firefighters.

Furthermore, the life expectancy for firefighters in the USA is ten years less than the average person. The frightening part? Fires aren’t the only thing they should be scared of.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit: An Overview

Various studies done over the years have found firefighters are at higher risk of cancer. A case in point is the most recent AFFF lawsuit update

The EPA has also committed to proceeding with its pledge to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The environmental agency is proposing two regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as a solution to PFAS pollution.

Thus far, 209 new cases have been added to the AFFF MDL in the past month, says TorHoerman Law. The law firm is one of several investigating AFFF cases.

AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam), used as a firefighting foam, was linked to cancer because of its PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) content. AFFF manufacturers are now facing a slew of lawsuits. The plaintiffs claim they knew about the risks of toxic firefighting foam but didn’t warn the public.

The firefighting foam class action lawsuit class action lawsuit has added additional cases. It brings the total to more than 6,000, Forbes reported.

PFAS linked to Increased Risk of Thyroid Cancer

PFAS is a synthetic chemical found in AFFF. The majority of people living in the US are exposed to the chemical.

What’s alarming was a study that reported a link between PFAS and thyroid cancer. The research, published in eBioMedicine, compared 88 people with thyroid cancer to a control group who were cancer-free.

Their findings showed that exposure to certain types of PFAS increased the risk of thyroid cancer by 56%. During their study, researchers found exposure to eight PFAS chemicals.

Toxic Forever Chemicals

PFAS are also known as forever chemicals. Found in various consumer products, they’ve been in use since the 1950s. 

The substance is used for its non-stick capabilities. PFAS also act as surfactants – helping different liquids to mix. The chemical can be found in firefighting foam to make it more effective.

PFAS can be found in the following products:

  • Stain-resistant fabrics
  • Food packaging
  • Non-stick cookware
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Cosmetics

Banned PFAS

Very little is still known about the toxic effects of PFAS. But environmental expert Daniel Drage urges proceeding with caution.

Potentially toxic to human health, they have already been linked to cancer, hormone disruption and diabetes. Well-known PFAS have been banned under the Stockholm Convention. Several others are currently being considered for a further ban.

Fighting the Odds

Exposure to harmful chemicals. Injuries from lifting heavy equipment. Falls from ladders or windows. These factors are part of being a firefighter. However, the long-term effects could prove fatal. Let us highlight a few long-term risks you may encounter.


Carcinogens like asbestos and diesel fumes are a firefighter’s enemy. These carcinogens enter the body via the skin and lungs. Based on several studies, firefighters are at higher risk of kidney and testicular cancer.

Long hours and irregular sleeping patterns lead to fatigue and a weakened immune system. The body becomes vulnerable to cancer-causing agents.

Mental Illness

Firefighters are exposed to traumatic events. Taking a toll on their mental health, trauma manifests in many ways. Anxiety, depression,  nightmares and flashbacks are symptoms of PTSD, the Honor Movement Foundation reported.

Cardiovascular Diseases

“Free radicals” are produced when the body comes into contact with smoke and chemicals. The molecules damage cells, resulting in inflammation and decreased function of the heart and blood vessels. Contributing factors to cardiovascular diseases are fatigue, insomnia and stress.

More PFAS Chemicals Lawsuits on the Cards

Experts predict a growing awareness of PFAS contamination could spur more litigation and settlements in the coming years. Reuters reported that lawsuits linked to the chemicals ended in over $11 billion in settlements in 2023.

The AFFF lawsuit has set a precedent for the future. Many of the cases have been consolidated in multi-district litigation in US courts.

Municipal water contamination cases have been added to the suit. They aim to make the responsible companies clean up PSAF-contaminated water.

Individuals in the district of South Carolina have also brought forward personal injury claims. They alleged exposure to PFAS led to kidney and testicular cancer, hormonal dysfunction and ulcerative colitis.

With PFAS found all over the world, what was concerning was the stats provided by the CDC. It found the chemicals could be in the blood of 97% of people living in the US. 

Consumer class action lawsuits and personal injury claims against clothing and personal hygiene brands are also set to increase.

The AFFF lawsuit will pave the way for future cases of this nature. In the meantime, our firefighters continue to live on the edge as they wait in limbo for an outcome.

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