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Aqueous film-forming foam use in the Navy

Since the early 1960s, the Naval Research Laboratory collaborated with the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) to develop a flame suppressant solution that would quickly extinguish hydrocarbon fuel fires.

This endeavor resulted in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), patented by the Navy in 1966.

After a devastating blaze on board the USS Forrestal in 1967 claimed 134 lives and injured another 161, AFFF became a mainstay on seaborne vessels and bases operated by the Department of the Navy. Soon after, the foam's efficiency earned it wider adoption across all branches of the armed forces, as well as civilian airports and firefighting departments.

AFFF's fireproof properties resulted from the fluorinated surfactants in its composition known as per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which comprised 50 to 98 percent of the product's contents. Although there are over 12,000 different types of PFAS, of which about 600 have known industrial and commercial applications, the main variants used in AFFF were:

  • PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid)
  • PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid)

Despite the Navy's concerns, AFFF manufacturers provided reassurances that PFAS were inert ingredients that didn't represent a risk to human health. However, manufacturers kept vital information regarding PFAS hazardous potential hidden for decades, preventing the development of adequate safety precautions, regulations, and research into the compounds' adverse effects.

In recent years, a growing body of medical studies has indicated PFAS' bioaccumulative potential and connection to debilitating and life-threatening diseases, including:

Concerningly, the manufacturers' irresponsible conduct meant that AFFF continued to be used for decades on bases administered by the Department of the Navy, exposing countless individuals who used the solution or consumed PFAS-contaminated drinking water. So far, PFAS have been confirmed on several naval installations and Marine Corps bases that fall under the Navy's jurisdiction, including:

The most contentious aspect that PFAS-exposed Navy veterans and former Marines have to contend with is the bureaucratic red tape encumbering their access to compensation. Although the VA recognizes PFAS' health risks, veterans' use of AFFF or exposure to PFAS-contaminated water doesn't constitute presumptive service-connected factors that would automatically qualify them for disability compensation.

Although having a PFAS disability claim approved by the VA can prove challenging, affected individuals have the option for legal recourse against AFFF manufacturers. If you served in the Navy or the Marines and have to come to struggle with a PFAS-related condition, we encourage you to reach out to Atraxia Law, and we will gladly review your claim and let you know if you are eligible for compensation.

Atraxia Law can help you file an AFFF Exposure Claim

With over 35 years of experience handling personal injury and toxic exposure claims, Atraxia Law's specialists leverage their extensive legal acumen to help clients obtain the financial restitution their debilitating conditions entitle them to.

We will only require that you provide us with your military records and a valid diagnosis of your PFAS-related disease.

After we establish your eligibility, we will promptly put you in touch with a specialized attorney who will file the claim on your behalf.