Navy Veteran Claims Firefighter Foam Exposure Led To Testicular Cancer

A former U.S. Navy firefighter developed testicular cancer following years of exposure to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which was used to fight petroleum fires on military bases nationwide, according to allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit.

Michael Sloane, of Texas, brought the complaint (PDF) against a number of chemical and safety equipment manufacturers on September 8, indicating that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) present in firefighting foams were the cause of his cancer diagnosis.

Commonly described as “forever chemicals”, PFAS compounds used in firefighter foam include perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which are now known to bioaccumulate in the body and environment, since they do not naturally breakdown, increasing the risk of a number of serious health conditions for former firefighters.

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Sloane indicates he was exposed to the chemicals when serving as a firefighter in the navy from 1980 through 1983, during which time he was stationed at the U.S. Navy Firefighting school, the U.S. Naval Base Charleston and on board the USS Hunley, the USS Dale and the USS Thorn. All of those locations used or stored PFAS-based firefighter foams, according to the lawsuit. However, Sloane was never warned of the potential health risks and indicates he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in May 2006.

“The descriptive labels and material safety data sheets for Defendants’ AFFF containing PFOA or PFOS and/or their precursor chemicals utilized by the United States Navy firefighters did not reasonably or adequately describe the AFFF’s risks to human health,” the lawsuit states. “The Defendants knew or should have known of the hazards of AFFF containing PFOA and/or PFOS and/or their precursor chemicals when the products were manufactured.”

Experts indicate PFAS chemicals contained in the firefighter foam may 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.

The toxic chemicals 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.

Sloane’s case joins hundreds of similar firefighter cancer lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals directly exposed to the chemicals while spraying the products during training or response exercises, indicating that the toxic chemicals caused various injuries, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and other cancers.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the cases, the federal litigation is centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, where it is expected that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be prepared for early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries respond to certain evidence and testimony which will be repeated throughout the claims. However, if settlements or another resolution for the lawsuits is not reached following coordinated pretrial proceedings, hundreds of individual claims brought by firefighters and others may later be remanded to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate jury trials.

8 Comments

  • juneSeptember 20, 2023 at 10:38 am

    My husband was in the Navy and the first 4 ships he was on he was a fireman. He developed colon and liver cancer in august 16 2021 and he passed away the 23 august 2021

  • GerardJuly 24, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    I joined the Coast Guard as a fireman and was stationed on a ship....My duties as a Fireman was to train officers of fire fighting...Went to many Navy Fire Fighting schools to keep up with fuel oil fires, using foam. Got out of the service and ended up with Prostate Cancer 1970-1974

  • NathanielApril 27, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    I Join the Navy on March 3rd and served from 1982 until March 17, 1995. During my service time I served onboard five different shipboard commands and various duties. I was a Machinist Mate ad worked in the engine room. I was assigned numerous of times as a member of firefighting parties, as a number one hose man, a number two hose man and other duties, I hand carried containers of foam to and fro[Show More]I Join the Navy on March 3rd and served from 1982 until March 17, 1995. During my service time I served onboard five different shipboard commands and various duties. I was a Machinist Mate ad worked in the engine room. I was assigned numerous of times as a member of firefighting parties, as a number one hose man, a number two hose man and other duties, I hand carried containers of foam to and from designated areas. These containers often had some leakage directly expose to my skin without hand protection. I attended firefighting school several times while station on the U.S. Naval Base Charleston. Diagnosis by the VA with Prostate Cancer in 2019 or 2020.

  • LynwoodDecember 16, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    I'm a navy veteran who went to 3 firefighter school was exposed to foam in Norfolk naval station twice and once in mayport Florida. I have neuro endocrine liver damage. Obesity and thyroid problems. I put out petroleum fires without they giving me protective gear. I was exposed to foam flying all over my skin. I was in the foam from ankle deep

  • KerryOctober 4, 2022 at 12:26 am

    I was in boot camp at NRTS Orlando, Florida. We went through firefighting training the time in there. Then station on the USS Nashville LPD-13 at Norfolk, VA. Naval Station (NOB) ware firefighting training was continued aborad the USS Nashville LPD-13

  • JamesAugust 15, 2022 at 10:36 am

    I am trying to confirm if there is a way for me to get a v.a. Disability for an auto immune deficiency caused by exposure to firefighting foam in firefighting school at Treasure Island?

  • TracyApril 19, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    My husband joined the Navy and was stationed on the Saratoga in the 70's. He was on the flight deck and exposed to AFFF. He also spoke of a lot of the horrible conditions that everyone lived in while aboard this vessel. He developed pancreatic/liver cancer. His friend that served with him developed pancreatic/lung cancer and found out 1 week after my husband was diagnosed. Both died within three m[Show More]My husband joined the Navy and was stationed on the Saratoga in the 70's. He was on the flight deck and exposed to AFFF. He also spoke of a lot of the horrible conditions that everyone lived in while aboard this vessel. He developed pancreatic/liver cancer. His friend that served with him developed pancreatic/lung cancer and found out 1 week after my husband was diagnosed. Both died within three months of each other. Someone needs to step up and take responsibility.

  • DerrickMarch 30, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    I join the navy in August 1976. In boot camp I was exposed to AFFF during firefighter training. After boot camp transferred to USS Saratoga CV-60 and was exposed AFFF as a Aviation Boatswain mate in V-3 and briefly in V-1 Divisions. About 79-80 transferred to shore duty to a Air base where I was exposed to AFFF. About 80-81 I transferred back to the USS Saratoga and was expose to AFFF again. [Show More]I join the navy in August 1976. In boot camp I was exposed to AFFF during firefighter training. After boot camp transferred to USS Saratoga CV-60 and was exposed AFFF as a Aviation Boatswain mate in V-3 and briefly in V-1 Divisions. About 79-80 transferred to shore duty to a Air base where I was exposed to AFFF. About 80-81 I transferred back to the USS Saratoga and was expose to AFFF again. Note that in 2013 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had surgery to remove my right kidney.

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