AFFF Lawsuit: Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

Key takeaways:

  • AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) used in firefighting contains toxic substances known as PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances) which have been linked to serious health issues. This has led to numerous lawsuits seeking justice for victims and their families.
  • The AFFF lawsuit is not a class action but an MDL (Multidistrict Litigation), where cases are coordinated by a single judge for pretrial proceedings. As of September 2022, there are over 2,500 pending cases in the MDL AFFF lawsuit.
  • The lawsuits aim to hold manufacturers accountable for their actions and force them to change their practices with regard to AFFF. Victims are seeking compensation for injuries, medical expenses, and other serious damages.

AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit Overview

On this page, we’ll discuss:

  • An overview of the AFFF Lawsuit
  • Updates surrounding the ongoing AFFF Firefighting Foam Lawsuit
  • The side effects caused by exposure to AFFF and PFAS
  • Average AFFF Lawsuit settlement amounts being projected
  • Who qualifies to file an AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuit

afff lawsuit

AFFF lawsuits involving firefighting foam exposure are occurring nationwide, with plaintiffs linking their serious health issues to this toxic chemical.

Read on to learn about these lawsuits, what AFFF is, and how you can get help if you’ve been affected.

Table of Contents

Lawsuit Updates

  • April 15, 2024 Update:

    Tyco Fire Products has agreed to a $750 million settlement in a case related to the contamination of public water systems with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which are components of firefighting foams.

    PFAS are known for their durability in the environment and for potentially causing serious health problems, including cancer.

    This settlement is part of a series of legal agreements with companies such as 3M and Dupont, underscoring the ongoing efforts to mitigate the environmental and health risks associated with these chemicals.

    The agreement is pending approval from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina and aims to support the enhancement of water treatment systems.

    This specific settlement deals with public water systems impacted by PFAS from firefighting foams. Concurrently, the broader AFFF lawsuit, which includes claims for personal injuries and cancer, is still active and has not been resolved.

    Our law firm is actively accepting new clients for the AFFF lawsuit.

    Please contact us for a free consultation, or utilize the chatbot on this page to instantly determine if you qualify for the AFFF lawsuit.

  • April 1, 2024 Update:

    The progression of AFFF litigation is notable. 

    The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) reported an increase to 7,738 pending lawsuits for consolidation as of April 1st, up from 7,170 as of March 1st.

    This rise in litigation is largely due to increased awareness among individuals about their rights to seek compensation for exposure to Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam extensively used by various military branches and firefighting units for its capacity to extinguish fuel-based fires.

    Concerns have emerged regarding the health implications of AFFF’s chemical ingredients, particularly Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which are suspected of being linked to several severe health conditions.

    Individuals with extended exposure to AFFF, especially firefighters and military personnel, are considered to be at greater risk and have been pivotal in highlighting these health concerns.

    Individuals who have encountered AFFF and subsequently faced health issues are urged to seek legal advice to explore their compensation options.

    Our law firm provides complimentary consultations to evaluate potential claims related to AFFF exposure. 

    For immediate assistance or to discuss your case with our specialized AFFF attorneys, please use the chatbot feature on our website or contact us directly.

  • March 21, 2024 Update:

    The AFFF Lawsuit continues, and our team of AFFF Attorneys is actively enrolling clients from all 50 states. 

    Progress is being made in the AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) legal battle by setting up a procedural structure designed to evaluate the scientific foundation of allegations that the foam’s chemicals are linked to liver and thyroid cancer.

    An integral part of this procedure is the forthcoming “Science Day,” during which experts will present the MDL judge with crucial scientific and medical evidence that forms the basis of these claims.

    This stage of the litigation involves the selection of particular liver and thyroid cancer cases for the bellwether process, which imitates trial conditions to gauge potential jury reactions to the evidence and testimonies presented.

    Important deadlines have been established for the involved parties to share scientific research that either supports or disputes the claims of cancer, leading up to the presentations on Science Day.

    After these presentations, a period of 60 days will be dedicated to formulating a comprehensive strategy for moving forward with the bellwether trials.

    This follows the settlement of water contamination claims by the 3M Company with local water suppliers, amounting to more than $10.3 billion.

    However, the cancer claims related to AFFF exposure are still unresolved and awaiting settlement.

    Should you or someone you know have been exposed to AFFF and later developed cancer or other health issues, you might be eligible to participate in the AFFF Lawsuit. 

    Reach out to our law firm for a no-cost consultation, or use the ChatBot on our website to determine your eligibility for the AFFF lawsuit.

  • March 6, 2024 Update:

    The ongoing AFFF lawsuit has seen a total of 7,170 lawsuits awaiting consolidation, as indicated in the latest Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) documents.

    In the U.S., Multidistrict Litigations (MDLs) are established to efficiently oversee numerous civil lawsuits that present similar legal issues, involve common facts, or concern the same defendants.

    Such litigations typically gather a large number of lawsuits under a unified cause—ranging from product liability to pharmaceutical disputes and mass torts—allowing them to be combined and processed in one federal district court for all pretrial activities.

    The AFFF MDLs are designed to simplify the legal process, centralizing discovery to avoid redundant efforts and guarantee uniformity in crucial legal decisions.

    The addition of 176 lawsuits in the last month underscores the growing momentum of the AFFF MDL efforts.

    Despite reaching a settlement regarding cases of water contamination, the battle over individual exposures to Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) presses on.

    It’s imperative for those affected by AFFF to understand their legal options. 

    Utilize the chatbot feature on this site to promptly ascertain your eligibility for the AFFF lawsuit.

What is the AFFF lawsuit?

Fire extinguishers are necessary for any public building as they are a key safety measure in the event of a fire.

However, many AFFF foam fire extinguishers have now been found to contain toxic substances which have impacted the health of many.

These toxic substances are known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A rise in health complications related to PFAS due to AFFF exposure has led to various lawsuits in order to get justice for the victims and their families.

AFFF firefighting foam isn’t limited to the fire department, as it is also used in many types of training.

For example, the U.S. military has used this foam for many years, and it is also used in crash test training simulations.

This means that many people could have a claim in the AFFF lawsuit due to coming in contact with this toxic firefighting foam.

Is the AFFF lawsuit a class action lawsuit?

No, the AFFF lawsuit is not a class action lawsuit.

An AFFF Class action lawsuit status would require all plaintiffs to be similarly situated, which is not the case here.

Instead, the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit is an MDL (Multidistrict Litigation).

In an MDL, the cases are not combined into one single lawsuit, but rather the discovery and other pretrial proceedings are coordinated by a single judge.

This helps to avoid duplicative work and conflicting rulings on pretrial matters.

How many cases are in the AFFF MDL?

As of September 2022, there are over 2,500 pending cases in the MDL AFFF lawsuit.

The docket is consolidated and includes claims that allege exposure to or pollution from PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).

Judge Richard Gergel of the United States District Court of South Carolina currently presides over the litigation.

In 2021, it was announced that three cases would go to trial in 2023 from the thousands of cases waiting to be resolved.

These bellwether cases all involve allegations that AFFF firefighting foam polluted drinking water sources statewide and led to health problems resulting from occupational exposure to firefighting foam.

Various AFFF manufacturers and suppliers might be held responsible for remediation costs.

Victims in the AFFF lawsuits are seeking compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, and other serious damages.

The lawsuits also seek to hold the manufacturers accountable for their actions and force them to change their practices with regard to aqueous film-forming foam.

What is AFFF?

AFFF (an acronym for aqueous film-forming foam) is a type of firefighting foam that is used to extinguish fires involving flammable liquids.

This type of foam was developed in the 1960s and has since become the most common type of suppression foam used by firefighters.

What’s more, AFFF firefighting foam was used for many years by the military and firefighters alike.

However, problems are arising based on mounting evidence that the chemicals in AFFF likely cause serious illnesses in exposed individuals, including cancer.

What is in Aqueous film forming foam?

Aqueous film-forming foam is a synthetic fluorine-based surfactant that is mixed with water to create a thick foam.

However, this firefighting foam contains chemicals including:

  • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): These are both fluorinated organic compounds that are used as surfactants. They are also persistent organic pollutants and toxic chemicals.
  • Fluorotelomers: Chemicals that are used to make fluoropolymers, which are then used in many products, including nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam.

Some of the chemicals in aqueous film-forming foam are known as forever chemicals, meaning they do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in the bodies of humans and animals.

This means that the health effects of exposure to these dangerous chemicals may not be immediately apparent but could develop over time.

How does AFFF put out a fire?

AFFF firefighting foam works by creating a blanket of foam on the surface of the burning liquid, which smothers the fire and prevents it from spreading.

It does this by quickly cooling the burning liquid and creating a barrier between the oxygen in the air and the fuel.

AFFF firefighting foam is particularly effective at extinguishing fires involving flammable substances such as gasoline, oil, and alcohol. It is also effective at suppressing fires in Class A (combustible materials such as wood and paper) and Class B (flammable liquid) fires.

Is AFFF foam corrosive?

Yes, this firefighting foam is corrosive, so it has always been important to take measures to protect the skin and eyes when using it.

It is recommended to wear gloves, goggles, and a face shield when handling or using AFFF foam to avoid direct AFFF exposure.

AFFF is also used in aircraft fire extinguishment and can also ruin aircraft and their parts due to corrosion.

Even though AFFF has the same pH as water resources, they can be highly corrosive to sensitive equipment like circuit boards because the foam usually sticks around instead of flowing off.

What is PFAS?

PFAS chemicals are a group of manmade chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), as mentioned earlier.

PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals.

PFAS chemicals are used in a variety of everyday products, such as:

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Water-resistant clothing
  • Stain-resistant fabrics and carpets
  • Firefighting foams

These chemicals are resistant to heat, water and oil, making them ideal for certain situations.

However, this resistance also means that PFAS do not decompose easily, and as a result, they can accumulate in the soil and water over time.

Further, there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

For example, humans are exposed to PFAS through these things:

  • Eating food contaminated with PFAS
  • Drinking water contaminated with PFAS
  • Using products that contain PFAS
  • Working in industries that use or produce PFAS
  • Living near sites where PFAS are manufactured or used

Does all fighting fire foam contain PFAS?

No, not every firefighting foam contains PFAS.

For example, firefighting foam used for Class A fires, which are fueled by organic materials like wood or paper, does not typically contain PFAS.

That being said, some Class A foams may still have trace amounts of PFAS because they are often manufactured using the same equipment as Class B foams.

What foam has PFAS?

AFFF firefighting foams used for Class B and C fires, which are fueled by flammable liquids like gasoline or oil, often contain PFAS.

Due to the dangerous effects they can have, some manufacturers have reformulated their products to remove or greatly reduce the PFAS content.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the average AFFF lawsuit settlement?

    AFFF firefighting foam lawyers are still speculating on the exact amount that each plaintiff may receive in their AFFF lawsuit settlements.

    However, it’s safe to say that the AFFF firefighting foam settlement amounts will be very high.

    This is because the injuries caused by these chemicals are very serious, including cancer and other illnesses.

    By looking at previous MDLs, it’s possible to make some estimates on current AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit settlements.

    Top-tier plaintiffs could receive around $200,000 and $500,000.

    Second-tier plaintiffs could receive around $150,000 to $300,000, and third or lower tiers may receive $75,000 or less.

    While AFFF has been necessary for firefighting purposes, especially in managing fuel fires, it seems the environmental and physical dangers outweigh the advantages.

    The long-term health effects of exposure to these chemicals are now being taken into consideration, as well as the impact on the environment.

    There is a movement to find more environmentally friendly ways to extinguish fires, and it seems that AFFF may soon be a thing of the past.

    It’s hoped that these lawsuits will bring about a much-needed change in the way that AFFF is used and manufactured and that safer, more environmentally friendly products will be developed to take its place.

    In the meantime, it’s important for those who have been exposed to AFFF to be aware of the potential health risks and to monitor their health closely.

    Not sure if you can qualify for this lawsuit?

    Find out in as little as 60 seconds using our chat below for a free case evaluation.

  • Can you file a wrongful death claim for a loved one who died as a result of exposure to AFFF?

    Yes, if your loved one died as a result of exposure to AFFF, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer.

    These claims involve seeking compensation for the death of a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of another party.

    You can expect different forms of compensation, such as medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings and benefits, pain and suffering before death occurs, and loss of companionship.

    The deceased’s closest relatives typically have the first right to compensation in a wrongful death claim.

    Most often, this is the spouse, followed by the children if there is no existing spouse.

    If the deceased did not have a spouse or children, their parents might be able to get compensation through a wrongful death claim, particularly if the deceased contributed to their parents’ support—financially or physically.

  • Can you file a claim if you're not a firefighter?

    Yes, you can still file a claim and get involved in AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits even if you’re not a firefighter.

    Although it’s true that firefighters may have had more direct AFFF exposure, many other people were also exposed to these harmful chemicals.

    For example, AFFF was commonly used at military bases, airports, and factories.

    Many claims in the firefighting foam lawsuit involve individuals who may have been exposed to AFFF through contaminated water etc., and subsequently developed cancer or other illnesses.

    To make a valid claim in the AFFF foam lawsuit, plaintiffs will need proof that they developed one of the cancers linked to AFFF exposure, such as prostate cancer or kidney or testicular cancer, and that they were exposed to AFFF firefighting foam chemicals.

    With an experienced attorney, you’ll need to collect occupation evidence of AFFF exposure, such as work history and work placements, etc.

    Medical records of your cancer diagnosis, such as lab tests, imaging and medical bills, will also need to be collated.

    The amount of compensation you’ll receive depends on a few factors, such as the extent of your AFFF foam exposure, your time of diagnosis and the severity of your illnesses.

    If you think you were exposed to AFFF firefighting foam, you can use our chatbot for a free case evaluation.

  • Why are manufacturers being sued in the AFFF Lawsuit?

    Many cases in the AFFF lawsuit claim that AFFF manufacturers were aware of the dangers AFFF and the toxic chemicals posed, but they neglected to share this information to make a profit.

    If manufacturers fail to disclose known risks of their products, they may be held liable for injuries or damages suffered by users of those products, and this is the case with the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit.

  • Which manufacturers are involved in the AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits?

    The companies named in the AFFF lawsuits include:

    • 3M
    • Tyco Fire Products LP
    • Chemguard Inc.
    • Buckeye Fire Equipment Co.
    • Chubb Fire.
    • Kidde-Fenwal Inc.
    • Dupont
    • And more.

    The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuits are seeking various forms of compensation for the damages that have been caused by aqueous film-forming foam, and the companies involved are in the process of defending themselves against these lawsuits.

  • Is AFFF still being used?

    Yes, AFFF is still being used, but due to recent evidence resulting from the AFFF foam lawsuits, there has been a shift to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of AFFF firefighting foam.

    The U.S. military has also been working to phase out the use of AFFF due to the health and environmental risks associated with the chemicals in the foam.

    The AFFF firefighting foam lawsuit is still ongoing, and current regulations on AFFF usage vary from state to state.

    However, certain guidelines outline ways for fire protection officials and government agencies to comply slightly more with environmental and groundwater experts’ suggestions.

    Some of these guidelines state:

    • AFFF can only be used in extreme circumstances, specifically in:
      • Alcohol-based products
      • Aviation incidents
      • Hydrocarbon fires
    • In any other circumstance, an alternative that doesn’t include PFAS chemicals needs to be used, especially when it comes to fire safety and training.

    These guidelines don’t completely stop the use of AFFF – however, they do lower exposure to large amounts of PFAS while still keeping people and buildings safe during a fire.

  • Is AFFF banned?

    There is no definitive answer to this question, as different jurisdictions have different regulations regarding the use of AFFF.

    Some countries have banned the use of AFFF, while others have restricted its use.

    Overall, the general consensus is that AFFF firefighting foam should only be used in cases where other fire suppression methods are not effective.

    This widely used fire suppression foam has been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense to be a major source of environmental contamination from PFAS.

    When AFFF is used to suppress a fire, the PFAS within the foam seeps into the environment and groundwater, contaminating anything in its path. So many states are reevaluating if they should allow AFFF, and some are taking measures to prohibit it.

    The Department of Defense has even set a deadline of 2024 for military organizations using firefighting foam containing PFAS to switch products.

  • What are the alternatives to AFFF?

    There are various alternatives available, some with different or lower PFAS content than traditional AFFF foams.

    There are also several non-AFFF firefighting foam options available that don’t contain any PFAS, which are typically more expensive, but they don’t pose the same risks to human health and the environment.

    A few of these non-AFFF firefighting foam alternatives include:

    C6 Firefighting foam concentrates

    These products typically use a different fluorochemical called 6:2 Fluorotelomer alcohol, or C6 FTOH.

    C6 FTOH is structurally similar to PFAS, but it’s not as persistent in the environment, and it doesn’t build up in the human body as PFAS does.

    However, C6 FTOH can still contaminate drinking water if it’s not used properly.

    Firefighting foams containing C8 (a fluorosurfactant with a carbon chain length of eight) have begun to face legislation and regulation because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has discovered that longer fluorosurfactants’ chains – those above six carbons – contain PFAS.

    However, Fluorosurfactants whose chains are shorter – at six or fewer carbons long- don’t pose the same risks.

    Fluorine-free foams

    Fluorine-free foam is a manmade alternative to traditional foams used for fire suppression.

    It contains surfactant blends and polysaccharides, which create a cooling blanket of bubbles when applied to fire fuels that prevent the spread of flames.

    Unlike other options, the fluorine-free foam does not contain PFAS.

    This gives it a clear environmental advantage, as it is less likely to contaminate its surroundings.

    Dry chemical agents

    Dry chemical agents are another fire suppressant option, which uses a chemical powder to extinguish flames.

    Pressurized dry chemical agents work by creating a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen in the air, starving the fire of its needed elements.

    One advantage of dry chemical agents is that they can be used on different types of fires, including those involving combustible liquids and energized electrical equipment.

    Another advantage is that they can be discharged through small orifices, making them effective in suppressing hard-to-reach fires.

    Still, many dry chemical agents are considered hazardous, so they must be used with caution.

  • What type of fire is AFFF used on?

    AFFF is most effective on Class B and Class C fires, which involve flammable liquids or gases.

    This firefighting foam is often used for fuel fires, which are common in industrial and automotive settings.

    Fuel fires can be especially difficult to extinguish because the fuel often continues to feed the fire even after the initial flames have been extinguished.

    AFFF firefighting foam can help to quickly stifle these types of fires and prevent them from reigniting.

  • What is the difference between AFFF and FFFP?

    Both are foam-based extinguishers, but Film-forming Fluoroprotein (FFFP) foams are better suited for reigning in hydrocarbon liquid fires and are formed with protein foam technology.

    FFFP foams can also be used unaspirated, which means they do not require a separate air supply.

    The protein-based composition of the foam gives it a high resistance to heat, meaning it can quickly snuff out fires.

    Additionally, the film formation properties help to rapidly knock down flames.

    Film forming Fluoroprotein foams excel in high-risk situations where hydrocarbons (crude oil, aviation kerosene, gasoline, and diesel fuel) are stored or transported.

    The rapid intervention vehicles at many airports and military bases use these products because they can quickly put out fires and provide postfire security with only a small amount of foam concentrate.

  • Is AFFF a carcinogen?

    The PFAS found in AFFF is carcinogenic, which is why there is a link between firefighting foam, cancer, and other physical health issues.

    Human exposure to these chemicals puts individuals at an increased risk of developing cancer later on, as the PFAS don’t deteriorate or leave the body easily.

    In fact, these fire suppression chemicals can bind with proteins in the blood and stay in the body for years.

    Then, they can gradually build up in tissue over time until cancers form.

    As mentioned earlier, these chemicals in firefighting foam do not decompose and may take thousands of years to eliminate from groundwater and soil, according to research.

    What’s more, when firefighters are exposed to AFFF foam, they can end up with high levels of fluorinated compounds in their blood, which has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid disease.

  • What forms of cancer do the PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam cause?

    The PFAS in AFFF firefighting foam is associated with a range of cancers, including:

    • Prostate Cancer
    • Testicular Cancer
    • Pancreatic Cancer
    • Kidney Cancer
    • Bladder Cancer
    • Leukaemia
    • Thyroid Cancer

    Unfortunately, AFFF exposure doesn’t just cause cancer.

    It can also lead to fertility issues, liver damage, birth defects, and immune suppression.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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