An Idaho man suffering from kidney cancer is pursuing a new lawsuit against the manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), a type of firefighting foam widely used at military bases and civilian airports for decades.
According to a firefighting foam lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, on April 2nd, Dennis Roger Schilling was exposed to AFFF during his long career as a military and/or civilian firefighter. These products contained per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) a group of manmade chemicals known to be toxic and carcinogenic. (Case No. 2:20-cv-01258-RMG)
Schilling was subsequently diagnosed with kidney cancer and claims AFFF exposure contributed to development of the disease.
“AFFF and its components are associated with a wide variety of adverse health effects in humans,” the lawsuit states. “Exposure to Defendants’ AFFF has been linked to serious medical conditions including, but not limited to, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, testicular tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, bladder cancer, thyroid disease and infertility.”
There are more than 580 firefighting foam lawsuits pending in the multidistrict litigation currently in the District of South Carolina. In addition to personal injury lawsuits filed by individual cancer victims or their survivors, the docket also includes claims brought by municipalities – including many located near military installations where AFFF was used – that seek compensation for PFAS-contaminated groundwater.
Defendants named in these lawsuits include: 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 have earned the nickname “forever chemicals,” as once they accumulate in the environment or human body, they persist for years and never break down. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies two specific PFAS used to manufacture AFFF — 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.