Firefighters are the heroes who risk their lives to save ours. They are exposed to a variety of hazards, including fires and harmful chemicals, so it’s essential that they have the proper equipment to keep them safe.
Unfortunately, for many years, firefighters have been exposed to a chemical that was supposed to help them, but instead, it may have caused serious health issues. The chemical in question is called AFFF, and the lawsuits surrounding its use are shaping public health policies and advocacies.
What is AFFF?
AFFF stands for Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, which is a firefighting foam used to extinguish flammable liquids. It contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are toxic chemicals that can accumulate in the body over time. PFAS are linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer, immune system problems, and developmental delays.
The Impact of AFFF on Public Health
For many years, firefighters have used AFFF without the knowledge of its potential health risks. It was only recently that the public became aware of the dangers of the chemical, as it can contaminate groundwater and has been found in the blood of firefighters and nearby residents. The increasing contamination has resulted in numerous lawsuits, investigations, and calls for stricter regulations to safeguard public health.
A recent peer-reviewed study by researchers at the Environmental Working Group has estimated that over 200 million Americans could have PFAS, the toxic fluorinated chemicals, in their drinking water.
These chemicals, also known as forever chemicals, are among the most persistent toxic compounds, contaminating various things like drinking water, food, food packaging, and personal care products.
PFAS can be found in the blood of virtually everyone on Earth, including newborn babies, and they never break down in the environment.
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can harm the body in several ways. These chemicals are known to accumulate in the body over time and can remain in the body for years. PFAS are linked to a variety of health issues, including:
- Cancer: Some studies have found that exposure to PFAS may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including kidney, testicular, and ovarian cancers.
- Immune system problems: PFAS have been shown to suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and other illnesses.
- Developmental delays: PFAS exposure has been linked to developmental delays in infants and young children, including delays in learning and motor skills.
- Hormonal disruptions: Some studies suggest that PFAS may interfere with the body’s hormonal balance, potentially leading to issues with fertility, growth, and development.
Overall, the long-term effects of PFAS exposure are still being studied, but there is growing evidence linking these chemicals to a range of health problems.
Manufacturers of AFFF, including 3M, Chemours, and DuPont, are facing lawsuits filed by firefighters and residents who have been exposed to the chemical and suffered medical problems.
These lawsuits claim that the companies were aware of the risks associated with AFFF but failed to warn the public or conduct adequate testing. Some lawsuits even accuse the companies of concealing information about the dangers of AFFF.
In the latest AFFF lawsuit update, individuals who have suffered medical problems after being exposed to AFFF may be eligible to file a lawsuit, regardless of when the exposure may have occurred.
To make this possible, various states and jurisdictions have extended the statute of limitations to the date when a person reasonably discovered the link between their diagnosis and the product(s) that may be responsible.
With more than 4,000 plaintiffs joining the AFFF MDL, manufacturers and other PFAS polluters are facing increased scrutiny.
The Effect on Public Health Policy and Advocacy
The lawsuits surrounding AFFF have had a significant impact on public health policy and advocacy. For example, the EPA has set a health advisory level for PFAS in drinking water, which has led to increased testing and monitoring.
States have also taken action, with some implementing stricter regulations on the use of AFFF and others providing funding for PFAS testing and remediation.
The lawsuits have also led to increased public awareness of the risks associated with PFAS, which has helped to drive advocacy efforts to reduce exposure to these toxic chemicals.
The AFFF lawsuits are an important example of how legal action can shape public health policy and advocacy. The impact of AFFF on firefighters and nearby residents is a reminder of the importance of protecting public health from hazardous chemicals. As the lawsuits continue to unfold, it’s likely that we will see more regulations and advocacy efforts aimed at reducing exposure to PFAS and other toxic chemicals.