Firefighting Foam Lawsuit Claims PFAS Exposure Caused Lymphoma, Testicular Cancer

Published on April 17, 2020 by Sandy Liebhard

A former firefighter from Vermont has filed a new lawsuit alleging his Hodgkin’s lymphoma and testicular cancer were the direct result of exposure to the aqueous film-forming (AFF) firefighting foams  he used on the job.

Firefighting Foam Lawsuit Allegations

According to his April 3rd filing in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, the plaintiff trained with and used AFF firefighting foams during his working career as a civilian/military firefighter. These foams contained polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). (Case No. 2:20-cv-01263-RMG)

Like other firefighting foam lawsuits pending in the federal multidistrict litigation now underway in South Carolina, the complaint cites decades of scientific studies and reports suggesting PFAS, especially PFOA and PFOS, can accumulate in human blood and the  environment, resulting in a multitude of adverse health effects, including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, testicular tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, bladder cancer, thyroid disease and infertility

“Defendants were and/or should have been aware, knew and/or should have known, and/or foresaw or should have foreseen that their design, marketing, development, manufacture, distribution, release, training and response of users, production of instructional materials, sale and/or other handling and/or use of AFFF containing PFAS would result in the contamination of the blood and/or body of Plaintiff with PFAS, and the biopersistence and bioaccumulation of such PFAS in his blood and/or body,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff seeks compensation from numerous AFF firefighting foam manufacturers, including: the 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.

PFAS and Firefighting Foam: What’s the Problem?

PFAS are manmade chemicals used in everything from stain retardant fabrics and Teflon cookware to food packaging and cleaning products. Known as the “forever chemicals,” these compounds don’t break down in the environment or the human body, and are known to interfere with immune function, endocrine function and breast development.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies PFOA and PFOS  as “emerging contaminants,” and has established a “Lifetime Health Advisory” setting a recommended lifetime limit for exposure from drinking water. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has also issued a warning regarding increased risks of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and kidney cancer related to the use of firefighting foam at U.S. military installations.

For decades, PFAS-containing firefighting foams were used to extinguish fires fed by jet fuel and other  highly flammable liquids at civilian airports and military installations throughout the United States. In addition to personal injury claims, the litigation underway in South Carolina includes hundreds of firefighting foam lawsuits filed by municipal governments and other entities seeking compensation for PFAS-contaminated groundwater.

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