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Lawsuit Over Exposure to Firefighting Foam Allege Chemicals Caused Testicular Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Other Injuries

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson
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A growing number of lawsuits are being filed over exposure to chemicals used in firefighting foam, including claims by former firefighters and resident near military bases who indicate that they have developed various types of cancer.

One recent complaint (PDF) was filed by Dennis Roger Schilling in South Carolina federal court on April 2, indicating that he was diagnosed with kidney cancer after years of exposure to aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) as a firefighter. Other firefighting foam lawsuits have been filed over testicular cancer, Hodgkins lymphoma and other injuries.

Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) has been widely used at military bases and by some civilian firefighting organizations throughout the United States, involving chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are toxic and carcinogenic.

The complaints name a number of difference chemical manufacturers and other companies as defendants, including 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard, Inc., Chemours Company, Chubb Fire, Ltd., Corteva, Inc., Du Pont De Nemours Inc., Dynax Corporation, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., Kidde, National Foam Inc. Tyco Fire Products, and United Technologies Corporation

According to the complaint filed by Schilling, the firefighting foam manufacturers continue to deny their products are dangerous, despite years of scientific research and massive environmental damage and water contamination.

“Defendants have each designed, marketed, developed, manufactured, distributed, released, trained users on, produced instructional materials for, sold, and/or otherwise handled and/or used AFFF containing PFAS, in such a way as to cause the contamination of Plaintiff’s blood and/or body with PFAS, and the resultant biopersistence and bioaccumulation of such PFAS in the blood and/or body of Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.

In addition to firefighting foams, PFASs are chemical substances used to manufacture a number of products, including food packaging materials, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, fabrics, nonstick cooking pans, and other products. The firefighting foam has been regularly used at military bases nationwide over the past decade during routine fire extinguishing exercises, and is increasingly used by civilian firefighters.

The chemicals are projected to take thousands of years to degrade, and past studies have shown their ability to enter and stay in the environment and human body through the air, dust, food, soil, and water. Previous U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies have shown PFAS chemicals primarily settle into the blood, kidney and liver, and could likely be detected in the blood of 98% of the U.S. population.

PFAS were first introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1940’s, because of their ability to resist heat, grease, stains, and water. However, since then the chemicals have been linked to a myriad of adverse health effects including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.

In June 2019, a federal investigation found that PFAS chemicals are commonly found in numerous food products, including meats, seafood, chocolate, cake and other products. However, the FDA released a statement indicating that the levels found do not raise health concerns, based on the best available science.

According to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012, exposure may also suppress the immune system and limit the ability of the body to create antibodies in response to childhood vaccines.

In December 2018, all firefighting foam exposure lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide were centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for pretrial proceedings.

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1 comment

  1. Gerard Reply

    I was inquiring about the AFFF lawsuit.

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