Toxic PFAS Chemicals Not Just in Firefighter Foam, But Also In Their Protective Gear: Bloomberg
A new report highlights growing concerns among firefighters about the risks associated with toxic cancer-causing chemicals in firefighting foam, which are also present in other protective gear commonly used by departments nationwide.
According to a story published this week by Bloomberg News, several firefighters filed a lawsuit earlier this year in California state court, indicating that their “bunker gear” contained chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are known to increase the risk of cancer among humans and persist in the environment or human body for years.
This means their protective clothing and gear, necessary to prevent injury while fighting fires, could be an additional vector of cancer-causing agents, adding to existing concerns over PFAS in firefighting foams.
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Exposure to firefighting foam chemicals may result in an increased risk of cancer for firefighters, military and airport personnel.Learn More About this Lawsuit
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been used for decades at military bases and by some civilian fire fighting organizations throughout the United States to fight petroleum-based fires which cannot be controlled or subdued by water alone. Versions of the fire foam have been made with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, which are known to increase the risk of cancer among humans and persist in the environment or human body for years.
In the United States, a number of communities around military bases, airports and other firefighter training locations have been with high levels of PFAS in local water sources, which are often difficult to remove and may cause widespread health concerns.
While most recent firefighter PFAS lawsuits have focused on film-forming foam, this complaint, representing two dozen firefighters focuses on the presence of PFAS in their protective gear.
All of the firefighters named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit have cancer, with nine of them having prostate cancer. In addition, all of the firefighters had high levels of PFAS in their blood.
In October, the lawsuit was removed from state to federal court. The lawsuit names a number of protective gear manufacturers as defendants, including 3M Company and Johnson Controls Inc.
The Bloomberg report suggests courts may see an influx of these protective gear PFAS lawsuits in coming months. These would be in addition to hundreds of firefighting foam lawsuits pending nationwide, including claims presented by local governments and water districts, as well as claims brought by former firefighters diagnosed with testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and other injuries after direct exposure to the chemicals.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the PFAS litigation, all cases filed throughout the federal court system are currently centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, where small groups of water contamination cases and cancer claims are being prepared for early trial dates.
RonaldJune 5, 2021 at 3:29 pm
I am a retired firefighter with years of service now fighting recurrence of prostate cancer. As you can understand, my health and everyday life with me and my family has been severely affected with the effects of chemo and radiation doing an number on me. But, I am one of the lucky ones as I have a loving and supportive family. But I do strongly believe this is in direct corirelationtion to my fir[Show More]I am a retired firefighter with years of service now fighting recurrence of prostate cancer. As you can understand, my health and everyday life with me and my family has been severely affected with the effects of chemo and radiation doing an number on me. But, I am one of the lucky ones as I have a loving and supportive family. But I do strongly believe this is in direct corirelationtion to my fire service. I also do not believe that movement to fix the problem is not fast enough. Thousands of my brother firefights are STILL wearing this dangerously contaminated gear! WHY? Why can’t we get this fixed.
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