Former Firefighter Claims PFAS in Firefighting Foam Caused His Kidney Cancer

A newly filed lawsuit claims dangerous chemicals in firefighting foam caused a Floridian man’s kidney cancer diagnosis and subsequent kidney removal. This lawsuit joins over 200 others, each similarly alleging that firefighting foam exposure caused health complications like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, heart cancer, and breast cancer.

According to the complaint, James Edward Collie was regularly exposed to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) during his career as a military and/or civilian firefighter. The former firefighter alleges that exposure to toxic chemicals called per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in AFFF caused his kidney cancer diagnosis and following kidney removal.

PFAS are manmade chemicals designed to resist heat, water, grease, and stains. They were first introduced to the manufacturing industry in the 1940s and have been since included in numerous products including plastics, food packaging, and, notably, Class B AFFF.

“AFFF is a specialized substance designed to extinguish petroleum-based fires,” Collie’s lawsuit indicates. “It has been used for decades by military and civilian firefighters to extinguish fires in training and in response to Class B fires.”

However, since their release on the market, PFAS have been linked to adverse health conditions such as liver damage, decreased fertility, thyroid disease, and cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAS can build up or bioaccumulate inside of the body and never break down, causing the aforementioned injuries.   

Collie’s lawsuit, filed on December 8th, indicates he regularly used and was directly exposed to firefighting foam to help fight fires and train to fight fires. However, Collie was never informed that the foam was toxic or that he would need protective gear in order to safely to handle the foam.

“AFFF and its components are associated with a wide variety of adverse health effects in humans,” Collie indicates in his complaint. “Exposure to Defendants’ AFFF has been linked to serious medical conditions including, but not limited to, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, testicular tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, bladder cancer, thyroid disease, and infertility.”  

Numerous companies across the U.S. manufacture firefighting foam containing PFAS including 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, and Chemguard, Inc. These companies, among others, are named as defendants in Collie’s lawsuit.

According to Collie’s lawsuit, AFFF manufacturers knew as early as the 1960s about PFAS toxicity and never warned consumers about the health risks. Additional studies conducted in the last decade have confirmed the health risks of exposure to PFAS in AFFF.

“By at least 2010, additional research and testing performed by Defendants manufacturing and/or using PFAS, including at least 3M and DuPont, revealed multiple potential adverse health impacts among workers exposed to such PFAS,” Collie’s complaint states.

Firefighting Foam Lawsuits

Due to the increasing, similar claims that AFFF exposure caused injuries, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to centralize these federal lawsuits as part of a multidistrict litigation. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel now oversees these lawsuits in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division. Collie and other individuals filing firefighting foam cancer lawsuits in this litigation are suing for damages for personal injury caused by PFAS in AFFF.

As part of pretrial proceedings, Judge Gergel established a “bellwether” trial process to help address the increasing lawsuits. Bellwether trials are a series of early trial dates designed to help parties gauge how juries might respond to certain testimony and evidence likely to be repeated throughout the claims.

By the end of the bellwether process, if parties have not reached a firefighting foam settlement, each individual case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court it was originally filed in for a future trial date.

Firefighters Fear Their Protective Gear Could Cause Cancer: Bloomberg Report

PFAS in Firefighter Gear Alleged to Cause Health Complications

A new report indicates firefighters could be at risk of developing severe health problems from not only firefighting foam but their protective gear too. Bloomberg Law reports firefighters’ “bunker gear” contains large quantities of chemicals called PFAS, or Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS has been linked to numerous health problems including liver, kidney, and prostate cancer.

“No one had ever heard of it before,” said Paul Cotter, a former firefighter, of PFAS in firefighting gear. Cotter was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a 28-year career as a firefighter.

Cotter faced numerous dangers on the job as a firefighter, from collapsing buildings to heat exhaustion. However, when Cotter was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, further research indicated PFAS in firefighting gear may be to blame for his cancer.

PFAS are manmade chemicals designed to resist grease, oil, water, and heat, making them ideal for firefighting gear. However, health officials like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked PFAS exposure to a number of health complications like lower infant birth weights, increased cholesterol levels, and cancer.

Nuclear Physicist Graham Peaslee was requested by Cotter’s wife to investigate whether Cotter’s firefighting gear had a link to cancer. Peaslee, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, found through his research that firefighter textiles had “high levels of total fluorine.” Total fluorine is a major component of PFAS.

“There’s no question there’s PFAS in the gear,” nuclear physicist Graham Peaslee said. “Now it’s a question of whether it’s getting into firefighters’ bodies and accumulating there.”

PFAS have been added to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which is frequently used by firefighters to fight fires in training and on-the-job scenarios. Recent lawsuits and newly enforced legislation have focused on the dangers of PFAS in firefighting foam, working to place regulations on PFAS and pursue further research on the health impacts of PFAS exposure.

Over the last few years, many former firefighters and individuals exposed to firefighting foam have filed claims against AFFF manufacturers, claiming exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam caused their cancer diagnosis. While many of the lawsuits filed over PFAS contamination call out firefighting foam manufacturers for negligence, only a few are seeking damages against turnout gear manufacturers.

“There’s a lot of PFAS chemicals out there, and there are many that we really don’t know what effects they have,” said University of Arizona researcher Jefferey Burgess. Burgess is leading one of the two federally funded studies on PFAS.

Companies who manufacture gear containing PFAS assert their gear is safe for use, denying any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for 3M Scott Fire & Safety said the company “uses limited quantities of certain fluoropolymers in components of firefighter protective equipment.”

“3M’s products have been tested and assessed to help assure their safety for their intended uses,” Sean Lynch, a spokesperson for 3M, said.

However, further studies prompted by these allegations may prove that PFAS exposure from firefighting gear is toxic to human health. Attorneys representing victims of firefighting gear cancer indicate there is a substantial causational link between PFAS in their clients’ firefighting gear and cancer.

“We think it’s going to bring about change in the industry, and ideally give them compensation for their injuries,” said Elizabeth Pritzker, an attorney with Pritzker Levine LLP, which represents two dozen firefighters filing claims in California against foam makers and manufacturers of firefighting protective gear. Each of Pritzker's clients was diagnosed with cancer (nine of them with prostate cancer like Paul Cotter) and had higher than average levels of PFAS in their blood.

“We just need more people to know about it and to demand change,” Cotter said about PFAS in firefighting protective gear. “We can change it. We can make the fire service a little bit safer.”

Geologists Call PFAS “One of the Most Toxic Substances Ever Identified”

PFAS Contamination Drives Geologists to Warn Public About Hazards of These “Forever Chemicals”

For decades, PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, remained relatively unknown to the general public. Odd, considering this chemical class contains over 3000 compounds and have been added to products for nearly a century.   

PFAS are manmade chemicals added to some of the most common and popular manufactured goods on the market. Since the 1940’s industries added PFAS to products including paints, plastics, and even microwavable popcorn bags. However, the public has remained oblivious to what they do or why manufacturers add PFAS to many of the most used and recognized household products.

Manufactures designed PFAS chemicals to be incredibly sturdy and resistant to grease, oil, heat, and water, making them ideal for products like firefighting foams and stain- and water-repellent fabrics. Because of this resilient design, for half a century manufacturers have extensively produced PFAS, leading to their widespread use in industries around the globe.

Despite their extensive use, the public has rarely to never heard of the extreme health risks associated with exposure to PFAS. In fact, geologists at the Geological Society of America (GSA) call PFAS “one of the most toxic substances ever identified.” In a recent press release, the GSA identified that even at extremely low concentrations, PFAS are extremely toxic and can cause severe health risks due to bioaccumulation.

PFAS earned the nickname of “forever chemicals,” because they do not break down over time, otherwise known as bioaccumulation. According to leaders in the health community, these compounds stay in the environment and the human body forever, steadily building up as time goes on. The GSA says PFAS can enter into the environment and get transported through groundwater, rivers, and soils, impacting every ecosystem they contact.

“PFAS don’t discriminate,” says Steve Sliver, GSA presenter and lead of Michigan state’s PFAS response team. “The sources are pretty much everywhere.”

Scientists at not only the GSA but the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry agree that this buildup of PFAS can cause severe health conditions over time, some of them potentially deadly. According to these researchers’ studies, the accumulation of PFAS in the body may cause side effects like low infant birth weights, thyroid hormone disruption, negative effects on the immune system, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

At the GSA’s 2020 Annual Meeting, geologists from across the country discussed the ramifications of PFAS in the environment, hoping to bring national attention to the risks of these substances. One of the presenters, Matt Reeves, a professor at Western Michigan University, said PFAS has bonds that are “among the strongest in all of chemistry,” lending to their nickname of being “forever chemicals.”

"It's almost like armor...we don't have any evidence of degradation of these compounds," Reeves says in an interview with the Geological Society of America.

With the mounting concerns of PFAS exposure across the country, some states have effectively implemented new measures to tackle the problem. Michigan has some of the strictest PFAS regulations in the country, placing the highest safety limit of one PFAS compound at 6 parts per trillion. This limit is far lower than the EPA’s guidelines.

“Michigan is the most proactive state of the nation in characterizing and studying PFAS, and with their legislation,” says Reeves. His talk at the GSA’s Annual Meeting, co-authored by Sliver, highlights the perpetual PFAS cycle on land and the difficulty of remediating sites identified with PFAS.

“Notice we don’t call it a ‘life cycle,’” Reeves says. “It’s a perpetual cycle. Many of these compounds do not naturally degrade, so there's no 'death.'”

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

As concerns continue to rise over PFAS exposure, many firefighters have filed complaints against firefighting foam manufactures for failing to warn them about the risks of PFAS in firefighting foam.

Like other products, manufactures have added PFAS to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) since the early 20th century. Big-name companies like 3M Company, DuPont, and Chemours produced Class B AFFF to help fight oil and grease fires.

However, these manufactures never warned consumers about the health risks associated with PFAS. Sources say manufactures may have known as early as the 1940's about the risks of cancer but failed to include proper warnings on firefighting foam.

Firefighters in the military, industrial settings, and local fire departments regularly used PFAS-contaminated foam in both training and fire-fighting settings, leaving them exposed to PFAS toxicity. Additionally, many living in communities near firefighting stations, military bases, or industrial sites that used AFFF have found local drinking water has been contaminated by PFAS in firefighting foam run-off. Numerous claims from across the country say PFAS in firefighting foam caused various cancer diagnoses, including testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, and liver cancer.

Were You Exposed to PFAS in Firefighting Foam?

If you were exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam and developed cancer, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Allegations from across the country indicate AFFF manufacturers hid the health risks of PFAS for nearly a century, neglecting your well-being. Their negligence could mean the suffering of, potentially, millions over the last few decades, and this negligence should not remain unchecked.

By filing a product liability claim against AFFF manufacturers, you can hold the manufacturers accountable for their actions and protect future users of AFFF. Along with holding manufacturers responsible for their negligence, you have the opportunity to get the compensation you deserve to help you recover from your PFAS-related injuries. Those filing claims against AFFF makers are seeking compensation to help cover financial burdens caused by their PFAS injuries, including medical monitoring, medical bills, pain & suffering, and loss of income.

By hiring the lawyers with Justice for Firefighters for your case, you not only receive years of extensive legal experience on your side, but you also get someone who will fight aggressively for the success of your case from start to finish. Reach out to us today for your free case evaluation to see if you may qualify to file a claim for your PFAS-related injuries.

Film-Forming Foam Caused Florida Firefighter’s Breast Cancer: Lawsuit

A recent claim filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina claims toxic chemicals in firefighting foam caused a firefighter to develop breast cancer. Dozens of lawsuits across the nation have been filed against the manufacturers of film-forming foam for failing to warn the public about the risks of exposure to chemicals in the foam.

Debbie Rittenhouse filed her complaint on September 15, joining a growing litigation against chemical and fire safety equipment manufacturers that produced toxic firefighting foam. Rittenhouse’s complaint calls out nearly a dozen firefighting foam companies for producing and selling toxic film-forming foam, including 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, and Chemguard, Inc.

Rittenhouse worked as a firefighter in Broward County, Florida from 1994 to 2018. In September 2016 she was diagnosed with grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma and metastasized lymph node, which she claims was caused by toxic chemicals in firefighting foam.

Firefighting foam, otherwise known as aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), is commonly used during training exercises and in response to fight certain fuel-based fires. However, since the 1940’s manufacturers have added chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to AFFF.

PFAS are manmade substances designed to resist heat and grease. PFAS can be found in a number of household products including popcorn bags, plastics, clothing, etc. Recently health officials have found PFAS can build up inside of the human body and never break down, increasing the risk of cancer and other severe injuries.

Studies conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that PFAS can settle in the kidney, blood, and liver, increasing individuals’ risk of liver and kidney cancer. Other firefighting foam injury lawsuits claim PFAS in AFFF caused firefighters’ colon, testicular, and breast cancer diagnoses.

According to product liability lawsuits filed across the nation, firefighters were never warned about the dangers of PFAS in firefighting foam nor trained how to safely use firefighting foam without risk of PFAS exposure.

“Throughout her long career, Plaintiff conducted routine trainings using Defendants’ AFFF and fluorochemical products,” Rittenhouse’s claim indicates. “At no point during her training or career did she receive any warning that Defendants’ AFFF containing PFOA and PFOS and/or their precursor chemicals was toxic or carcinogenic.”

Rittenhouse’s claim joins dozens of other firefighting foam injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, now centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Mississippi Firefighter Claims Toxic Firefighting Foam Caused His Prostate Cancer

A recently filed product liability lawsuit claims a former Mississippi firefighter developed prostate cancer following years of exposure to firefighting foam. Increasing studies have found toxic chemicals in firefighting foam can increase the risk of developing cancer including prostate, kidney, liver, and ovarian cancer.

On July 29, Dewayne Miles filed his complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Miles, who fought fires in both military and civilian positions, claims he was regularly exposed to toxic aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) during his firefighting career. Miles indicates in the claim that AFFF manufactures knew for decades that their foam was toxic due to the addition of substances known as PFAS.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals designed to resist heat, stains, grease, and water. They were first introduced to the market in the 1940’s and have since been added to firefighting foams, plastics, food products, and packaging.

However, since they were introduced into the marketing industry, studies indicate PFAS can build up in users’ bloodstreams and cause severe side effects. Health officials from the CDC found PFAS can settle in the blood, liver, and kidneys, causing tumors where they settle. Now, numerous studies link PFAS exposure to cancers including pancreatic, ovarian, testicular, and kidney cancer.

Miles’ lawsuit calls out popular AFFF manufactures for negligence, including Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard Incl, and Du Pont Nemours Inc. According to other lawsuits like Miles’, AFFF manufacturers knew about the cancer risks of PFAS in firefighting foam and still sold to the public without proper health warnings.

“Defendants did not warn public entities, firefighter trainees who they knew would foreseeably come into contact with their AFFF products, or firefighters employed by either civilian and/or military employers that use of and/or exposure to Defendants’ AFFF products containing PFAS and/or its precursors would pose a danger to human health,” the lawsuit states. “The Plaintiff was never informed that this product was inherently dangerous. Nor was the Plaintiff warned about the known health risks associated with this product.”

Military Exposure to Toxic Firefighting Foam

For military firefighters, aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) has been a staple in fighting fires on military bases. In the 1970’s the Department of defense began using AFFF to fight fuel fighters, and firefighting foam has been used in the military for both training to fight and fighting actual fires. For decades military firefighters actively handled and were exposed to AFFF on a daily basis, service members under the impression that the foam was not a hazard to their own health.

However, unknown to military firefighters, for nearly 60 years AFFF foam has contained toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals, while highly durable and effective in smothering fires, have been found to increase exposed individuals’ risk of a number of severe health conditions, namely cancer. In recent years increasing numbers of military firefighters have discovered their testicular, kidney, and liver cancers were caused by their exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam.

If you or a loved one was exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam while serving in the military, you may be at an increased risk of developing cancer. We are currently investigating claims on behalf of both civilian and military firefighters who developed cancer after being exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam.

PFAS in Military Firefighting Foam

For decades the military has used firefighting foam containing PFAS, highly resistant man-made chemicals. Reportedly the U.S. Navy developed AFFF in the 1960’s, and since it has been used by military firefighters, mainly for fires involving jet fuel and gasoline. Structurally PFAS are designed to be resistant to oil, grease, water, and heat, making them effective in smothering fires.

However, studies link exposure to PFAS to a number of health concerns, some of them deadly. Because of their durable nature, PFAS have been found to build up inside of the body and not break down over time, causing concerning side effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorized PFAS as an “emerging contaminant,” and have even linked the PFAS exposure to certain cancers. Firefighters who have come forward with firefighting foam lawsuits claim PFAS in AFF caused cancer diagnoses including testicular, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer.

In December 2019 the U.S. Senate decided to phase out military use of PFAS-based firefighting foam after recognizing the cancer risk caused by PFAS. However, this phasing out will not start until 2024. According to the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), the military uses 75% of all firefighting foam. In fact, reportedly the U.S. Department of Defense stockpiled thousands of gallons of firefighting foam for military use over the decades. Given the length of time the AFFF containing PFAS has been used in military circles, thousands of military firefighters over the years could be at risk of developing cancer from their exposure to toxic firefighting foam.

Military Firefighters at Risk

recent report states that “Firefighters are particularly at risk from PFAS exposure because they are exposed to AFFF during both training and actual fires.” Military firefighters that belong or used to belong to the following branches of the military may be at an increased risk of developing cancer from PFAS in firefighting foam:

Were You a Firefighter in the U.S. Military?

If you developed cancer after being exposed to AFFF firefighting foam in the military, don't suffer in silence. Research is showing firefighting foam manufacturers knew about the health risks of PFAS for decades and failed to disclose the risks to the public. Their negligence should not define your suffering; we can help you hold them accountable for their failure to protect you. To see if you may be entitled to compensation for your firefighting foam injuries, contact the advocates with Justice for Firefighters today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations and have legal representatives standing by 24/7 for your convenience.

Which Companies are Responsible for PFAS in Firefighting Foam?

In recent years researchers have found that chemicals in firefighting foams, or aqueous film forming foams (AFFF), are potentially carcinogenic and may contribute to firefighters and exposed individuals’ cancer diagnoses. For decades many of the most popular firefighting foams on the market have contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate can cause cancer and other adverse symptoms in those exposed. Some of the most at-risk individuals for firefighting foam cancer are military, local, and industrial firefighters.

According to firefighting foam cancer lawsuits being filed across the nation, AFFF manufacturers knew about the dangers of PFAS chemicals for decades, potentially back to when they were first introduced in the 1940’s. However, these companies continued to make and sell them without properly warning the public about the health risks. For example, the state of New Hampshire is suing eight companies for PFAS in firefighting foams, saying that their products were defective and unreasonable dangerous to consumers and users.

Firefighting Foam Manufacturers

If a company failed to take proper precautions to protect consumers from health risks, they can be held responsible for your injuries. Some manufacturers named as defendants in firefighting foam lawsuits across the nation include the following:

Were You Diagnosed with Cancer After Exposure to AFFF?

If you are a firefighter, were exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam, and developed cancer, you may be eligible to file a claim against companies that made firefighting foam and contributed to your injuries.

A company’s lack of proper safety warning should never define your suffering and injuries. Hold the negligent responsible and call us today. The personal injury attorneys at Justice for Firefighters have decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of injured individuals. For your free case consultation, contact us today at 1.800.935.3533.

Chemicals in Firefighting Foam ‘Stay in Blood and Don’t Leave,’ Scientist Warns

A former scientist for DuPont Industries reveals man-made chemicals frequently found in firefighting foam can stay in the blood and never leave, leading to severe health issues. Now, DuPont faces legal fire for knowingly selling products with PFAS and failing to disclose the health risks of PFAS exposure.

Aria Bendrix for Business Insider reports the story of Glenn Evans, a former chemical engineer for DuPont Industries. While working for DuPont, Evans designed coatings for food packaging products using paper.

However, Evans discovered that the chemical they used to coat these products, Zonly RP, contained a type of per-and polyfluroalkyl substance (PFAS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports PFAS has been linked to severe health issues including cancer, reproduction, liver damage, and developmental issues.

Evans found that Zonyl RP was entering the public’s food at three times the rate that DuPont told to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Testifying before Congress in July of 2019, DuPont has allegedly known for decades the dangers of PFAS and failed to communicate the risks to the public. Evans called for Congress to ban the use of PFAS.

"It doesn't go away. This is a man-made chemical," said Evers. "We just pass the baton to our generations of kids."

To read Aria Bendrix’s report for Business Insider, click here.

History of PFAS

PFAS gained popularity in the United States in the 1940s. Manufacturing companies frequently used them in products after discovering they could resist grease, stains, heat, and even water. PFAS have been included in many plastic products, food packaging, furniture, and firefighting foam.

However, studies over the last few decades have found PFAS stay around and can stay in water and air for years on end. Since this discovery, PFAS have been dubbed “forever chemicals.” Similarly, if one inhales PFAS, they could potentially stay in the body forever.

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

PFAS in firefighting foam has become a newfound epidemic in the last few years. Because of PFAS’s ability to resist both heat, grease, and water, manufacturers have used PFAS in firefighting foams to battle grease-based fires. Industries that use firefighting foams not only include local firefighting departments, but military, airport, and industrial firefighters.

However, firefighters are starting to find that their cancer diagnoses were caused by their exposure to firefighting foam. According to recent lawsuits, PFAS in firefighting foam has caused firefighters to develop cancers including testicular, bladder, ovarian, and kidney cancer among others.

PFAS has been used in firefighting foams since the 1940’s, so thousands of firefighters could be at risk of PFAS in firefighting foam cancer. If you were exposed to firefighting foam containing PFAS and developed cancer, help is at hand. You may be entitled to a cash settlement to cover financial burdens caused by your cancer. Connect with us today and we’ll answer any questions you may have about whether you may be entitled to file a claim for firefighting foam cancer. Call now at 1.800.935.3533.