For military and civilian firefighters, exposure to the per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is problematic not only due to the range of deadly and debilitating conditions that can arise but also due to the high risk of misdiagnosis.
Because of this, it's essential that firefighters obtain a second or even third medical opinion to ensure an accurate diagnosis, which is also vital towards establishing eligibility for compensation.
Every year, millions of Americans receive inadequate diagnoses that can result in a litany of adverse and life-threatening outcomes. However, professional groups such as firefighters experience higher misdiagnosis risks due to the prevalent occupational hazards in their line of work.
A lesser known health hazard that fire service professionals and volunteers were long unaware of is AFFF, a firefighting foam designed to combat type B fuel blazes that gained widespread use on hundreds of US military bases, airports, and civilian fire departments since the early 1970s. Despite manufacturers' disingenuous attempts to conceal their product's health risks for decades, a growing body of clinical research indicates that the PFAS in its formulation are linked to a host of deadly and debilitating diseases.
Considering the multiple occupational exposures military and civilian firefighters encounter regularly and the extensive range of symptoms that can result from a plethora of unrelated causes or diseases, assigning an accurate diagnosis can prove challenging even for experienced medical professionals.
Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is vital not only for timely treatment options but also for determining the toxic exposures that may have contributed to their condition's development. Therefore, it's strongly recommended that firefighters obtain a second and even third medical opinion to ensure a more detailed and comprehensive diagnosis, concurrently increasing the odds of having their disability compensation claims recognized.
Veteran firefighters who served in the armed forces are advised to consider additional medical diagnoses outside of the VA's healthcare system.
Colloquially dubbed 'forever chemicals,' PFAS are persistent artificial compounds comprising 50% to 98% of AFFF's contents and have been linked to several cancerous and non-cancerous afflictions. However, since many of the symptoms of PFAS exposure may overlap with unrelated conditions, the risk of misdiagnosis is considerably higher for firefighters.
The following represent only a part of the most frequent misdiagnoses of health issues stemming from exposure to AFFF's toxic ingredients:
As a result of AFFF manufacturers' irresponsible conduct, research into PFAS' health risks has stagnated for years, preventing the development of better diagnostics and treatment solutions. However, firefighters who used AFFF and developed a PFAS-related condition should consider the full range of tests which can provide a more precise and in-depth view of the underlying factors, including:
Even with the most accurate diagnosis at their disposal, the lack of regulations surrounding 'forever chemicals' means that firefighters' PFAS exposure isn't automatically regarded as a presumptive or qualifying factor for disability compensation. If you are a military or civilian firefighter who used AFFF and is now struggling with a PFAS-related disease, Atraxia Law encourages you to reach out to us, and we will gladly help determine your eligibility for compensation from the liable manufacturers.
For over 35 years, Atraxia Law's specialists have leveraged their experience in personal injury and toxic exposure claims to help individuals obtain the compensation their suffering entitles them to.
To evaluate your claim, we will only require that you provide us with your occupational/military records and medical documents confirming your diagnosis.
Once we establish your eligibility, we will put you in contact with a specialized attorney who will promptly file the claim on your behalf.