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AFFF exposure claim eligibility

As a fire suppressant devised to extinguish fires caused by flammable liquids and gases, aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is highly toxic, as it contains between 50% and 98% PFAS, a group of over 9,000 toxic chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals has a strong connection with many crippling diseases, mainly cancer. Military firefighters, civilian contractors, and civilian/volunteer firefighters are at risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, as they use AFFF often to put out jet fuel and petroleum fires.

The formula of AFFF was invented by the U.S. Navy and the 3M company in 1967, and firefighters have widely used the fire suppressant. Even in small amounts, PFAS are harmful, so if you have been using AFFF and now struggle with a disease, we encourage you to contact our expert team to have your case evaluated, as you might be entitled to financial compensation from the liable manufacturers.

Apparently, 3M has been aware of the awful health effects of AFFF exposure since the beginning. In 2000, the company stopped manufacturing the fire suppressant, but prior to this, it gained nearly half a billion dollars every year from selling AFFF. Perhaps the clearest evidence that 3M had been aware of the toxicity of PFAS all along is that when selling AFFF to DuPont, the label of the product stated that exposure could result in cancer.

The health risks of AFFF exposure

With each use of AFFF, tremendous amounts of PFAS are released into the environment, and inevitably, firefighters are exposed to the chemicals even if they wear protective gear. To make matters worse, PFAS are also present in firefighting protective gear, and as it wears out, these harmful substances can escape, posing yet another serious health threat to firefighters. According to the EPA, PFAS are emerging and persistent contaminants, which means that the health hazards and environmental risks associated with AFFF use are significant.

PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals”, and for a good reason – some of these substances take over a thousand years to break down in the environment, thereby perpetuating toxic exposure among those who live on military bases or nearby. The following are the health conditions and diseases military and civilian firefighters are at high risk of developing as a consequence of using AFFF regularly:

Out of the over 9,000 chemicals known as PFAS, two have a particularly strong association with these diseases – PFOS and PFOA. While they are very effective in extinguishing fires, they are highly toxic both to the environment and to human health. The firefighters who are most likely to develop a disease as a result of AFFF exposure are those who worked in:

  • firefighting training areas
  • aircraft crash sites
  • military airport hangars
  • commercial airports

Consequently, individuals who have the highest risk of coming to struggle with a disease from AFFF exposure are the military and civilian firefighters who use it, military personnel who were exposed to it, those who manufacture the fire suppressant, and communities living near military bases where AFFF was used. If you have one of the above diagnoses as a current or former firefighter, do not hesitate to contact Atraxia Law, as we have the necessary experience, resources, and knowledge to help you determine whether you are eligible to file a claim for AFFF exposure.

Eligibility criteria for firefighters exposed to AFFF

To become eligible to file a claim for AFFF exposure, it is important to know that you will have to meet a series of criteria. Even if you have a qualifying disease, you might still not be entitled to financial compensation. The following are the eligibility requirements you must meet to become eligible to file a claim for AFFF exposure:

  • you must have used AFFF regularly on the job after 1960
  • you must have a diagnosis that is related to PFAS exposure
  • you must have been discharged from the military other than dishonorably

It is also important to know that there is no family history exclusion if you have a qualifying disease and that minors cannot qualify for compensation, as only firefighters who used AFFF can. There is no statute of limitations for AFFF exposure cases either, with the exception of wrongful death claims, in which the statute of limitations will be that of the state the person resided in.

The manufacturers of AFFF

The chemical PFOA was developed in the 1950s. AFFF was commercially used starting in the early 1970s. Some manufacturers phased it out in the early 2000s, but it seems the replacement fire suppressant has similar problems. The AFFF products were designed, marketed, manufactured, distributed, and sold by one or more of the following companies, which have been named as defendants in many lawsuits:

  • 3M Company
  • Tyco Fire Products
  • Buckeye Fire Equipment
  • Chemguard
  • Du Pont de Nemours
  • The Chemours Company
  • Chubb Fire
  • Corteva
  • National Foam
  • Kidde Fire Fighting
  • Enterra Corp.
  • Williams Holdings
  • Dynax Corporation
  • UTC Fire & Security America’s Corp.

If you intend to file a claim for AFFF exposure as a firefighter, your claim will be filed with all the responsible manufacturers of the fire suppressant you used. Because many have been manufacturing AFFF knowing that exposure to PFAS can wreak havoc on firefighters’ health, they must be held liable for their negligence and failure to warn about the risk of cancer. To see the timeline of events related to AFFF lawsuits/claims please follow the link.

VA claims for AFFF exposure

For most veterans, filing a VA claim for AFFF exposure may not yield the expected results. While the Department acknowledges the compounds' potential health risks, PFAS exposure isn't considered a presumptive cause that would automatically qualify former service members for disability benefits or compensation.

Since each case is evaluated on an individual basis, and there aren't (yet) any specific provisions addressing the lasting harm of PFAS exposure during service, many veterans have a hard time getting their AFFF claims approved. In no small part, this is also due to the extensive documentary proof required not only to demonstrate eligibility but also the outcomes of PFAS exposure, including:

  • Service records attesting to the veterans' time on the base where exposure occurred
  • Records indicating the extent of AFFF use on said base
  • Medical records confirming the PFAS-related diagnosis

However, veterans have the opportunity to bypass the VA's challenging process. By first filing an AFFF claim against the liable manufacturers with Atraxia Law's assistance, veterans can use the detailed documents and records obtained by our paralegals on their behalf to support their claims for VA disability compensation and benefits.

Our expert team can efficiently assist you in filing a claim for AFFF exposure

With over 35 years of experience in evaluating toxic exposure and defective product cases, Atraxia Law has what it takes to offer you the assistance you need. If you have been using AFFF as a firefighter and now struggle with a disease, you should contact us, and we will gladly assess your situation to determine whether you qualify for compensation. We can obtain the military, employment, and medical records required to file a claim against the liable AFFF manufacturers on your behalf, which can likewise be used to support VA disability claims for eligible veterans.

After a thorough review of your case, we will establish if you are eligible to file a claim for AFFF exposure. Eligible individuals will promptly be put in touch with a specialized attorney so they can have their claims filed as soon as possible, as we are aware that many toxic exposure victims need extra money to afford treatment. Your involvement in the process will be minimal, so you can continue focusing on your health and treatment.

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