Firefighting Foam: Personal Injury Lawsuit for Harmful Exposure

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Attorney Jessie Paluch, founder of TruLaw, has over 25 years of experience as a personal injury and mass tort attorney, and previously worked as an international tax attorney at Deloitte. Jessie collaborates with attorneys nationwide — enabling her to share reliable, up-to-date legal information with our readers.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and legal experts at TruLaw and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Jessie Paluch, you can do so here.

TruLaw does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us by using the chat on the bottom of this page. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

Key takeaways:

  • Firefighters are exposed to harmful chemicals in firefighting foam used to extinguish fuel fires
  • Firefighters have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of this foam, seeking compensation for personal injuries
  • Alternatives to these harmful foams, such as fluorine-free foams, are being considered

Firefighting Foam: Personal Injury Lawsuits for Harmful Exposure

It is well recognized that firefighters display commendable courage as they utilize free firefighting foams, put their lives at risk in emergency situations, especially during oil fires rescue operations, in the execution of their duties.

Nevertheless, they also confront a less conspicuous peril.

The fluorine free foams that firefighters utilize in emergency situations to quell fires, especially those involving combustible liquids, can adversely affect their health, even leading to cancer.

Contact with this hazardous firefighting foam, composed of synthetic compounds and fluorinated chemicals, has severe implications for the health and welfare of firefighters during an emergency.

The use of fluorine free foams and liquids for disposal can mitigate these risks.

Firefighting Foam Personal Injury Lawsuits for Harmful Exposure

The hazards of firefighting foam are not confined to immediate physical injuries.

They extend to emergency situations, improper disposal, and even cancer risks for firefighters.

There is a growing apprehension among firefighters regarding the potential long-term impacts on the human body, including an increased risk of cancer from years of battling oil fires and chemical foam disposal.

Municipal fire departments across the nation are currently facing the arduous task of dealing with flammable liquids, often requiring the use of a chemical foam.

This foam blanket aids in disposal of these hazardous materials, typically being applied through a foam stream.

The human body, over years, is not designed to endure the harmful chemicals present in firefighting foam, making it an unforeseen risk factor for cancer.

It is imperative that we comprehend the risks our firefighters face while defending against oil fires and liquid fuel fires, including exposure to cancer-causing agents over the years and the dangers of protein foam.

We must also advocate for the legal rights of fire fighters, as part of the coalition, with a focus on the fire department’s years-long battle against cancer.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Persistence and Environmental Impact of Firefighting Foam

Understanding the persistence and environmental impact of firefighting foam

Firefighting foam containing surfactants and PFAS can have long-lasting environmental effects, potentially leading to significant environmental contamination and increased cancer risks.

The persistent chemicals in these foams can lead to serious ecosystem consequences and pose dangers, including potential cancer risks.

Studies have revealed alarming findings regarding the dangers of firefighting foam and its surfactants in various environments, including potential links to cancer.

The new foams containing PFOA can persist in soil, water, and air, posing a threat to both terrestrial and aquatic life from oil and gas facilities.

One major concern is the dangers of firefighting foam runoff into water bodies.

As the new foams reach rivers, lakes, or oceans, they can contaminate these crucial habitats and harm aquatic organisms.

The toxic substances present in the foam, such as liquid fuel and PFOA, can disrupt the delicate balance of underwater ecosystems and potentially increase cancer risk as foam stabilizers.

To address the environmental harm and potential cancer risks caused by traditional firefighting foams, researchers are actively working on developing eco-friendly alternatives.

These new solutions aim to effectively suppress fires while minimizing negative impacts, including cancer-related concerns.

This is essential to protect drinking water sources and other facilities from this substance, reducing potential cancer risks.

Effectiveness of Firefighting Foams in Fire Suppression

Effectiveness of firefighting foams in fire suppression

Different firefighting foams, such as PFOA and AFFF, are used by the defense and air force for specific fire scenarios and have been linked to cancer risks.

These foams enhance fire extinguishing capabilities by smothering the flames and preventing re-ignition.

The comparative effectiveness between PFOA and AFFF depends on several factors.

Foaming agents, such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) concentrate and protein foams, are essential for Air Force firefighters to suppress fires effectively.

These compounds create a layer that separates the fuel source from oxygen, preventing combustion.

PFOA and other PFAS chemicals are commonly found in these firefighting foams.

Factors influencing the efficiency and success rate of using foams for fire suppression in facilities such as the air force include the presence of PFOA and the use of AFFF.

Here are the four (4) factors that influence the effectiveness of firefighting foams in fire suppression:

1. Different types of fires require specific firefighting foam formulations, such as new foams for air force defense.

Liquid fuel fires, like gasoline or oil-based fires, may necessitate different foam types compared to solid material fires like wood or paper.

2. Concentration: The concentration level of AFFF firefighting foam affects its effectiveness in extinguishing fires.

Proper mixing ratios of chemicals and water must be followed to achieve optimal performance with the new foams.

3. Application method: The way fire extinguishment foam is applied also impacts its efficiency.

Various techniques, such as spray nozzles or specialized equipment like compressed air foam systems (CAFS), can enhance facility coverage and penetration.

New foams free of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are also being developed for improved fire extinguishment.

4. Fire size and intensity: Larger fires may require more application of new foams to ensure complete suppression.

Intense heat can affect the stability and longevity of the foam blanket, especially when using AFFF foam lawsuit (aqueous film-forming foam) in air force applications to combat fires involving water.

Comparisons between different firefighting foams reveal variations in their performance characteristics, especially regarding their effectiveness in containing and extinguishing fires caused by PFAS chemicals such as PFOA.

Additionally, these foams play a crucial role in preventing the spread of these harmful chemicals in water sources.

AFFF concentrates provide excellent extinguishment capabilities for liquid fuel fires by forming a foam blanket.

This foam solution, also known as chemical foam, is used by the Air Force to combat fires effectively.

Protein-based foams offer high resistance to re-ignition in fire extinguishment situations, making them effective for fuel fires.

However, these foams may have limitations when facing particularly flammable liquids, which can pose challenges for firefighters during fire tests.

Fluorine-free firefighting foams are gaining popularity due to environmental concerns associated with PFOA, PFAS, and other chemicals.

The EPA is actively monitoring these substances.

Impact of Military Foam on The Environment And Public Health

Impact of military foam on the environment and public health

The use of firefighting foam class action lawsuit by the Air Force has raised significant environmental concerns and public health risks.

Military-grade foams, particularly those containing perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFOS) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been found to have detrimental effects on both the environment and human well-being.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is actively working to address these issues.

Contamination incidents linked to military training sites using toxic foams, such as PFAS, have become a cause for alarm.

These incidents often result in the release of harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment, leading to contamination of water sources and soil.

The presence of contaminated water poses a serious threat to ecosystems, wildlife, and communities living nearby.

This issue has prompted fire tests to address the risks associated with liquid fuel fires, particularly in the Air Force, using firefighting foam and premix solutions.

Exposure to PFOS-based military foams, such as PFAS and PFOA chemicals, has been associated with various health issues.

Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to these air force-related chemicals can lead to adverse effects on liver function, immune system suppression, hormone disruption, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Recognizing these risks, organizations have issued health advisories in a year, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Health.

Efforts back are being made to mitigate the negative impacts caused by military-grade foams on municipal fire departments.

The Air Force, Navy, and other military branches are actively seeking alternatives to these chemicals that are less harmful to human health and the environment.

Steps are being taken to ensure proper disposal methods for existing stockpiles of foam, particularly those containing PFAS, to prevent any potential risks associated with liquid fuel fires of finished foam.

Exploring Alternatives to Toxic Firefighting Foams

Exploring alternatives to toxic firefighting foams

In the field of fire suppression, the quest for safer and more environmentally conscious water-based alternatives has resulted in the creation of innovative, non-hazardous solutions as substitutes for conventional chemical foams.

These novel foams are designed to overcome the shortcomings and potential dangers linked with synthetic firefighting substances, such as PFOA, as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A significant area of study focuses on investigating environmentally friendly, biodegradable firefighting substances that have the capability to effectively control fires without discharging dangerous chemicals into the environment, especially water.

The exploration of alternatives to harmful firefighting foams is a current subject of interest.

The focus is on the development of foam formulations that utilize surfactants derived from natural sources, such as plant-based compounds or proteins.

These new formulations offer a viable replacement for the dangerous chemical-based foams currently in use.

It is of significant importance to note the potential impact of PFAS and PFOA on water quality.

The advantages of these environmentally-friendly foams, which do not contain PFAS chemicals, are clear.

They exhibit superior fire suppression capabilities, which makes them appropriate for battling a variety of fire types, including those fueled by polar solvents or liquid fuels.

Furthermore, their ability to biodegrade mitigates concerns about long-term environmental implications.

The use of PFOS and PFOA has been regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

However, the transition from harmful chemicals such as PFOA and PFAS foam to these safer alternatives is not without its challenges.

One significant hurdle is the requirement for widespread adoption in firefighting operations to mitigate water contamination.

It is crucial to educate fire departments and emergency responders about the benefits and correct usage of these new foams, which do not contain harmful chemicals.

There might also be logistical challenges involved in acquiring and distributing adequate quantities of the alternative foam products to prevent further water pollution.

Adding to the complexity, regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) play a vital role in ensuring that any replacements for traditional firefighting foams containing chemicals meet safety standards without compromising effectiveness.

This necessitates thorough testing and evaluation of the water before these alternatives are approved for use in emergencies.

Addressing the Need for Safer Firefighting Foam Solutions

Addressing the need for safer firefighting foam solutions

Firefighting foam, including new foams, is crucial in combating fires and protecting lives and property.

However, it is essential to prioritize firefighter safety when selecting appropriate foaming agents, chemicals, and water while considering the potential risks associated with PFAS.

Collaborative efforts between industry experts, researchers, and regulatory bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), play a vital role in addressing the need for new foams.

By working together, they can develop and promote safer foam solutions that offer enhanced fire safety while minimizing the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water.

Raising awareness about potential health and environmental risks associated with PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam is another important aspect.

It is crucial to educate firefighters and the public about the concerns related to certain foam products containing these harmful substances.

This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions regarding the usage of these foams, ensuring the protection of water quality and compliance with EPA regulations.

Advocacy for stricter regulations and standards helps ensure that firefighting foam products containing chemicals like PFAS and fluorine meet established safety levels set by the EPA.

By implementing stringent guidelines, we can minimize risks associated with flammable liquids, storage tanks, and other hazardous situations where foams containing these chemicals are used.

Manufacturers also have a responsibility to innovate new products that address concerns related to PFAS chemicals.

Developing alternative aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) or premix solutions that provide effective fire protection while minimizing health, environmental impacts, and the presence of fluorine should be encouraged by the EPA.

The continued use of outdated foam formulations containing PFAS chemicals may compromise firefighter safety.

It is important for authorities, such as the EPA and Navy, to evaluate existing stocks of older foams and consider replacing them with newer, safer alternatives.

The use of firefighting foam, such as AFFF, creates a protective blanket that suppresses fires by preventing oxygen from reaching the fuel source.

However, there may be unintended consequences, such as contamination of water sources or damage to turnout gear due to prolonged contact with certain types of foam containing chemicals like PFAS.

This is a concern that the EPA has recognized and will be addressed by the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit.

Exploring Different Fields of Expertise in Firefighting Foam

Exploring Different Fields of Expertise in Firefighting Foam

Chemical engineering advancements have played a crucial role in the development of specialized firefighting foams containing chemicals recommended by the EPA.

These foams, such as expansion foam, are designed to combat fires more effectively by smothering the flames and preventing re-ignition.

Through extensive research and fire tests, chemical engineers have formulated foams that can efficiently suppress various types of fuel, including those found in petroleum facilities and aviation.

The use of PFAS-free foams has become a priority for the Navy.

Environmental scientists, in collaboration with the EPA, have made significant contributions to our understanding of firefighting foam contamination, particularly in relation to chemicals like PFAS.

Their research focuses on studying the impact of foam runoff on groundwater and surrounding ecosystems, providing valuable insights into mitigating environmental damage caused by firefighting operations, such as those conducted by the Navy.

To improve foam technology for firefighting, collaboration between navy firefighters, manufacturers, and researchers is essential.

This interdisciplinary approach allows for a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced in real-world fire scenarios involving chemicals and PFAS.

By combining industry expertise with scientific knowledge from research foundations, innovative solutions can be developed to address specific needs, such as using AFFF.

Effective training programs are vital for firefighters to understand how different foams, such as chemicals used in the Navy like AFFF, work and their appropriate applications.

Training should cover topics such as proper handling of foam products, selecting the right type, like AFFF, for specific fires, and operating equipment like hose systems effectively.

The goal is to equip firefighters with the necessary skills to maximize the potential of firefighting foams, including AFFF, during emergencies.

Application Techniques for Firefighting Foam

Application Techniques for Firefighting Foam

Properly applying firefighting foam, such as AFFF, is crucial to effectively combat fires.

Different types of foams and chemicals require specific methods for optimal performance.

Training and techniques, especially in the Navy, play a vital role in achieving the desired foam coverage.

However, various challenges can arise during foam application in different fire scenarios.

It is also important to consider the equipment used when employing foams for fire suppression.

The following application techniques for firefighting foam include:

1. Types of Foams: There are different forms of firefighting foam, including forming foam, free foam, and concentrate.

Each type has its own unique characteristics and applications.

2. Application Methods: Proper application methods depend on the type of foam being used.

These may include direct attacks, indirect attacks, or combination attacks.

3. Training Requirements: To ensure the effective use of firefighting foams, proper training is essential.

Firefighters must be trained on the correct techniques for applying foams in various situations.

4. Optimal Foam Coverage: Achieving optimal coverage requires understanding how to adjust concentration levels and flow rates based on the specific fire scenario.

5. Challenges Faced: Foam applications can present challenges depending on wind conditions, fire intensity, and access limitations.

Overcoming these challenges requires adaptability and quick thinking.

6. Equipment Considerations: The choice of equipment plays a significant role in successful foam application.

Factors such as nozzle selection, pressure requirements, and compatibility with foaming agents should be considered.

Whether it’s combating fires on an aircraft carrier or handling other fire emergencies, understanding the application techniques for firefighting foam, such as AFFF, is crucial for firefighters to effectively suppress fires and protect lives and property from the dangers of chemicals.

Safety Claims and Replacements for PFOS in Firefighting Foam

Safety Claims and Replacements for PFOS in Firefighting Foam

The following health concerns may have been associated with PFOS-based firefighting foams:

1. PFOS, a type of PFAS chemical, has raised significant health concerns due to its persistence in the environment and potential adverse effects on human health.

These chemicals are commonly found in foam concentrates used for fire fighting, such as fluoroprotein foam.

The Fire Fighting Foam Coalition is actively working to address the challenges associated with these chemicals.

2. Studies have linked exposure to PFOS, a chemical found in firefighting foam, to various health issues, including developmental delays, liver damage, immune system suppression, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

The Fire Fighting Foam Coalition recommends using protein foam concentrate as an alternative to chemicals containing PFOS.

3. The contamination of water sources by PFOS chemicals from firefighting foam runoff, specifically AFFF, has become a pressing issue.

Regulatory actions have been taken to ban or restrict the use of PFOS in foams by fire departments due to the harmful effects of chemicals like AFFF:

  • Recognizing the risks posed by PFOS-based foams, several countries, regulatory bodies, and fire departments have implemented measures to ban or restrict their use of AFFF.
  • In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) phased out the production and importation of firefighting foam containing AFFF and PFOS starting in 2002.
  • Other countries such as Canada, Australia, and European nations have also taken steps to limit or prohibit the use of these foams.

Evaluation of alternative chemicals used as replacements for PFOS:

  • Efforts are underway to find safer alternatives to replace PFOS-based firefighting foams without compromising effectiveness.
  • Researchers have explored various options such as fluoroprotein foam (FPF), which utilizes proteins derived from animal sources along with fluorinated surfactants.
  • FPF has shown promise in extinguishing Class B fires while reducing environmental persistence compared to traditional fluorosurfactant-containing foams.

Testing protocols and safety certifications required for new foam formulations:

  • To ensure the safety and efficacy of replacement foams, rigorous testing protocols and certifications are necessary.
  • These evaluations assess factors like fire suppression performance of foam concentrate, environmental impact of foam concentrate, biodegradability of foam concentrate, toxicity levels of foam concentrate, compatibility with existing equipment of foam concentrate, and free foam.
  • Independent organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) provide certification programs that validate compliance with industry standards, including the firefighting foam coalition, free foam, and foam concentrate.

Conclusion: Personal Injury Lawsuits for Harmful Exposure of AFFF Foam

Conclusion Firefighting Foam Personal Injury Lawsuits for Harmful Exposure

In the final analysis, it is evident that firefighting foam plays an indispensable role in extinguishing fires, however, it also poses substantial environmental and health risks.

The persistence and environmental impact of firefighting foam, particularly military foam containing PFOS, are alarming.

It poses risks to both the environment and public health.

Exploring alternatives to toxic firefighting foams is essential for mitigating these risks.

We need safer solutions that effectively suppress fires without compromising our ecosystem or endangering human well-being.

Addressing this need requires collaboration across different fields of expertise in firefighting foam research and development.

Application techniques for firefighting foam play a vital role in its effectiveness.

Proper training and implementation can optimize its performance during fire incidents.

Safety claims regarding replacements for PFOS in firefighting foam should be thoroughly evaluated to ensure they meet the required standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are The Health Concerns Associated With PFAS-Based Firefighting Foams?

    PFOS, a type of PFAS chemical found in firefighting foams, has raised significant health concerns.

    Studies have linked PFOS exposure to developmental delays, liver damage, immune system suppression, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

  • What Testing Protocols And Safety Certifications Are Required For New Foam Formulations?

    Rigorous testing protocols and certifications are necessary to ensure the safety and efficacy of replacement foams.

    Evaluations assess fire suppression performance, environmental impact, biodegradability, toxicity levels, and compatibility with existing equipment.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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