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Liver Cirrhosis Due to Toxic Exposure On Military Bases

PFAS are a family of chemicals made of a long string of carbon atoms with fluorine. The fluorine-carbon bond is one of the strongest chemical bonds known, giving the molecules their resistance in the environment, in the human body, and their "forever" moniker.

The use of PFAS-based firefighting foam and industrial discharges appear to be the main sources of pollution. Much of the contamination is found near airport hangars, aircraft crash sites, military installations, naval bases, firefighting training areas, and local fire districts that use PFAS-based aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). AFFF is used in fire emergencies, during equipment maintenance, but also for vapor suppression after oil spills.

Service members stationed at contaminated military bases are exposed primarily through ingestion of contaminated water. Epidemiological studies over the last decades have shown that PFAS levels are associated with adverse chronic health effects, including disruption of lipid metabolism in the liver which leads to excessive hepatic fat accumulation (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

The number of military installations with known contamination or suspected discharges of PFAS substances continues to grow, endangering the health of the people who either work or are stationed there and nearby communities. For example, more recent studies confirmed that four Air Force bases in South Carolina are saturated with the chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA:

  • Shaw Air Force Base
  • Joint Base Charleston
  • North Auxiliary Airfield
  • Myrtle Beach Air Force Base

In 2018, Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act with an amendment to allow airports to switch from foams that have these dangerous chemicals to safer alternatives. Though this switch is a good step for future safety, the unfortunate truth is that thousands of military personnel have been negatively affected by the PFAS-containing firefighting foam already.

Liver Cirrhosis May Result From Prolonged Exposure to PFAS

The liver is the target organ of many occupational and environmental toxins and plays a central role in processing almost all chemicals that enter the bloodstream and removing those that are difficult for the kidneys to excrete. However, if the liver is overwhelmed by an excess of toxins or if its detoxification ability is decreased, systemic toxin level increases and liver function decreases.

Liver cirrhosis is the result of continuous, long-term liver damage and may be due to many different causes. One of the major causes of liver cirrhosis is toxic hepatitis caused by severe reactions to prescribed drugs or prolonged exposure to environmental toxins, such as PFAS. The irreversible scarring of the liver can start blocking the flow of blood through the liver preventing normal metabolic and regulatory processes.

The presence of cirrhosis is hard to detect because symptoms aren't often present. If you have been exposed to PFAS substances and are concerned about your health, you should make an appointment with your doctor. They will conduct a detailed medical history, carry out a physical examination, and make plans for further tests. Some of the tests which may be used for cirrhosis include blood tests which among other things measure liver function and damage.

PFOA/PFOS and liver function, recent findings:

  • In animal studies, PFOS decreased body weights and increased liver weights.
  • Prenatal exposures to the environmental pollutants PFAS were associated with metabolic disruption and increased risk for childhood liver disease.
  • The accumulation of fatty acids ultimately leads to irreversible liver damage.
  • Liver cirrhosis causes scar tissue to form in your liver and increases your chances of developing liver cancer.

Legal Guidance for Veterans and Family Members Injured by PFAS Exposure at Military Bases

If you were stationed at one of the more than 600 military installations contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances please contact Atraxia Law to determine if you meet the preliminary requirements for a claim.

After a thorough case review, our case managers will file your claim both with the military base and with the VA so that you can benefit from the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

You only need to provide our legal team with your military and medical records, documents that will be used as evidence to support your claim. To qualify for compensation, you must have stationed on a targeted military base for 1 year or longer and subsequently developed liver cirrhosis. For more information, please contact Atraxia Law and we will promptly answer all your questions.

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