Tyco to Stop Making Firefighting Foam With Toxic Chemicals Next Year
Amid an increasing number of firefighter foam lawsuits and mounting regulations seeking to restrict exposure to so-called “forever chemicals”, Tyco Fire Protection Products has announced it will stop making and selling aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) that contains toxic PFAS chemicals by this time next year.
In a press release issued on July 18, Tyco announced plans to end the sale of fluorinated firefighter foam products by June 2024 and indicated that it plans to create a new “portfolio” of non-AFFF products, which it claims will be just as effective at fighting fuel-based fires.
The announcement comes as Tyco and other chemical and safety product manufacturers face mounting liability over cancer and other injuries caused by firefighting foam, and widespread PFAS water contamination caused as the toxic chemicals leached into drinking water supplies throughout the U.S., particularly around airports, military bases and other firefighter training locations.
Toxic Firefighting Foam Chemicals Pose Serious Health Risks
Firefighting foam with toxic PFAS chemicals have been sold by Tyco and other companies for decades, since the fluorinated substances act as a surfactant that spreads the foam to cool and suppress the fire.
While PFAS chemicals are also used in a wide variety of other consumer products, such as non-stick pans, pizza boxes and other material, most of the health risks caused by the toxic chemicals has come from use in AFFF firefighting foam.
As a result of the failure to disclose the harmful effects, Tyco, 3M Company and many other manufacturers face hundreds of firefighting foam cancer lawsuits brought by individuals diagnosed with cancer after direct exposure to the chemicals during their firefighter careers. In addition, a number of communities and local water suppliers are also pursuing lawsuits, particularly targeting 3M, over the costs associated with cleaning up the chemicals from drinking water, as well as injuries associated with drinking contaminated water near military bases and other areas.
“We have long been a leader in delivering the most innovative, life-saving fire protection solutions in the industry,” Chris Eichmann, vice president and general manager of Global Fire Solutions said in the press release. “Recent advances have allowed us to create a portfolio of new, non-fluorinated firefighting foam solutions that are effective against a range of fire conditions. Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to move toward more sustainable, effective solutions for our customers and the communities that we protect.”
Tyco indicates it has already begun contacting customers to alert them to the changes and will recommend new products to meet their needs over the coming months.
The announcement comes just weeks after Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., another fire safety equipment company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, indicating that it likely cannot afford to pay the cost of resolving or settling firefighter foam PFAS lawsuits.
Firefighter Foam and Water Contamination Lawsuits
There are currently about 3,000 lawsuits over toxic PFAS effects pending nationwide against Tyco and a host of other companies, each involving similar allegations that the companies failed to warn about the long-term health risks from exposure to the chemicals.
The number of claims is likely to continue to grow for decades, given the nature of PFAS, which earned the name “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment, meaning they will likely continue to be a toxic threat to water supplies and human health for a long time to come, and Tyco and others could be held liable for much of that as lawsuits continue to be filed for years.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in lawsuits being filed against Tyco, as well as 3M Company, Kidde-Fenwal and other manufacturers of PFAS chemicals and fire safety equipment, consolidated pretrial proceedings have been established in the federal court system, where claims brought nationwide are all centralized before one judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, for coordinated discovery and a series of early trial dates to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
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