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.”

Firefighting Foam Exposure Caused Fatal Leukemia, Wrongful Death Lawsuit Claims

The wife of an ex-firefighter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against firefighting foam manufacturers, claiming exposure to toxic chemicals in the foam caused her husband to develop and die from acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This lawsuit joins hundreds of others from across the U.S., each alleging toxic foam caused individuals to develop severe injuries.

Last week Deidre Culhane filed her complaint in the U.S. District Court from the District of Southern California. The claim, brought forward on behalf of her and her late husband David, claims he was exposed to toxic aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for nearly 40 years during his career as a firefighter.

Ms. Culhane indicates in the lawsuit that her husband was regularly exposed to firefighting foam during his time as a firefighter at the Arlington Fire Department. A year after he retired, Culhane was diagnosed with AML, which caused his death several months later. There was no prior family history of AML.

“Slowly and tortuously, Mr. Culhane was overcome by the disease,” Ms. Culhane states in the lawsuit. “On July 18, 2018, he finally succumbed to the cancer and passed away in the presence of his family. The last year of Mr. Culhane’s life could best be described as a perilous struggle against a disease whose origin was still a mystery to his family and him. It remained a mystery until October 2019, when Plaintiff discovered information about AFFF being a human carcinogen.”

The lawsuit calls out several manufacturers and distributors of firefighting foam as defendants. AFFF manufactures named in the lawsuit include 3M Company, Chemguard, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., and the Chemours Company.

Toxic Firefighting Foam Side Effects

AFFF foam has been actively used by military bases, airports, and civilian fire fighting organizations for decades. However, recent research has found that chemicals added to fire fighting foam can be toxic to human health.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals designed to resist grease, oil, water and heat. AFFF manufacturers have added PFAS to their foam since the 1940’s to help fight oil-based fires, but these chemicals can be found in everything from plastics to furniture.

Recent studies uncovered PFAS can build up inside of the body and never break down, causing severe side effects. According to health officials at the FDA, CDC, and American Cancer Society (ACS), PFAS can increase individuals’ risk of developing cancer. Lawsuits brought forward by those injured by firefighting foam exposure claim PFAS in AFFF caused cancer diagnoses including testicular, pancreatic, ovarian, and liver cancer.  

“Defendants in this case knew the risks AFFF presented to the health of human beings,” the lawsuit states. “They knew that the users of PFAS containing AFFF would most often be those who take on the most sacred of public charges. But instead of informing the selfless public servants, giving them a chance to choose if the risk was worth the use, Defendants simply took that agency away from people like David Culhane.”

In December 2018, lawsuits against firefighting foam manufacturers for PFAS exposure where centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for pretrial proceedings.

Firefighting Foam Contamination: Who’s at Risk?

Many think firefighters are the only group of people at risk of exposure to toxic firefighting foam. However, recent reports discovered people residing around areas that use AFFF foam have high levels of “forever chemicals” in their blood.

For decades military bases have been using and stockpiling firefighting foam for training and firefighting purposes. Now, researchers have discovered chemicals in AFFF foam can cause cancer and other severe side effects.

Since the 1940’s manufacturers of firefighting foam added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to AFFF. PFAS are human-made chemicals that can be resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat.

However, PFAS have been found to build up inside of the body and never break down, causing individuals’ cancer diagnoses. Across the country individuals are finding that their exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam has caused their cancer diagnoses, including kidney, liver, and testicular cancer.

Airport, military, and civilian firefighters are not the only individuals at risk of toxic firefighting foam exposure. While firefighters are at high risk of developing cancer from PFAS in AFFF, property owners and communities around military bases, airports and incinerators where PFAS firefighting foam is used and burned could be at risk of exposure.

A report in Chemical & Engineering News discovered that “Airports and military bases use large amounts of firefighting foams for training purposes, and in some cases, the perfluorinated surfactants have slipped into groundwater and surface water supplies,” potentially putting surrounding communities in danger.

Firefighting foam runoff can contaminate well water and public drinking water. This can potentially cause cancer in people exposed to PFAS in firefighting foam.

In fact, in 2016 the military warned that there could be potential firefighting foam contamination near 664 different military sites across the nation.  AFFF was commonly used during training exercises at these facilities, and the toxic chemicals may have contaminated water in surrounding communities.

Were You Exposed to Toxic Firefighting Foam?

If you or a loved one was exposed to toxic firefighting foam and developed cancer, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. According to allegations brought forward in firefighting foam lawsuits, AFFF manufacturers knew about the dangers of PFAS in firefighting foam and still sold toxic foam to the public. Because of their negligence, thousand of individuals in the U.S. could be at risk of developing cancer, requiring constant medical monitoring and treatment.

At Justice for Firefighters, we’re here to make sure AFFF manufactures are held accountable for their negligence. We fight aggressively for your right to compensation for your injuries, so you have your best chance at recovery and healing. We take the hassle out of filing a claim for you so you can focus on your life, not cutting through the red tape of the justice system.

To speak to a legal professional today about whether you may be able to recover compensation, contact us today at 1.800.935.3533. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations and have live professionals standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns.

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.