For years, firefighters have been using AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) to extinguish challenging fires, particularly Class B fires that involve flammable liquids. This foam is typically formulated with agents containing fluorinated surfactants, with PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) as the active ingredient.
AFFF formulations have proven highly effective in suppressing fires. However, recent research highlights the fatal consequences associated with it, affecting not only firefighters but also the communities they protect. The primary concern is the negative environmental impact of AFFF, including issues related to biodegradability, toxicity, persistence, nutrient loading in soils, and treatability in wastewater treatment plants.
Chicago Fire Watch Guards are well-versed in the challenges of maintaining fire safety in a city celebrated for its architectural diversity. Their expertise is tailored to address the unique requirements of safeguarding diverse structures within the city.
All these factors contribute to concerns about the toxic foam contaminating domestic and natural water resources. Additionally, inhalation of the foam can result in various health hazards, including different types of cancer.
For example, the use of AFFF by firefighters has led to pollution of the New Jersey water supply, and similar consequences have been observed in other areas. Notably, the City of Waco has recently filed a lawsuit against manufacturers of firefighting foam, citing a strong link to cancer.
This article aims to shed light on Waco’s efforts in the battle against AFFF foam use and provide information on legal solutions for those affected.
Waco’s Protest Against AFFF Use
In September 2023, 25 News reported that the Waco City Council had voted to join a class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina. The lawsuit was initiated by plaintiffs who claimed that chemicals used in the foam led to ailments such as cancer and caused permanent hazards to the environment.
The City of Waco has been using foam for several years at the airport to combat fuel fires. This foam contains PFAS, a substance that the human body cannot naturally expel, as it does not break down over time in the environment.
Most federal and state agencies have imposed restrictions on the use of such chemicals and foam for fire suppression. Two other Texas cities, San Angelo and Fort Worth, are among the 5,600 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Moreover, the AFFF lawsuit uncovers the long-standing use of these chemicals since the 1950s. Many AFFF manufacturers were aware of the cancer risks associated with these chemicals but did not disclose this information to the public.
Jennifer Richie, a city attorney in Waco, has stated the city’s intention to participate in the national litigation against the firefighting foam products used at Waco Regional Airport. The city also intends to assess the costs required to treat and remedy any contamination that may have occurred.
Health Hazards of AFFF Foam Exposure
The majority of individuals exposed to AFFF are either from the U.S. military or are firefighters. However, this doesn’t mean that other people cannot be affected by this toxic foam.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the ailments associated with AFFF exposure include:
- Increase in cholesterol
- Child development problems
- Fetal damage
- Fertility issues
- Low birth weight
- Liver disease
- Thyroid disease
- Changes in the immune system
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia
Nevertheless, the extent of the impact depends on the duration of an individual’s exposure to the foam as well as the concentration of AFFF. That is not all. The foam also results in cancers of many kinds, such as kidney, bladder, testicular, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer.
Seeking The Legal Way
Whether you are a resident of Waco or any other city, if you have been affected by AFFF and have suffered significantly, it’s time to take legal action. Recent legal updates have seen 3M pay nearly $850 million to the state of Minnesota for environmental contamination resulting from PFAS exposure.
This offers hope for those considering filing an AFFF lawsuit and seeking the compensation and justice they deserve. However, you can’t navigate this process alone. It is crucial to reach out to an experienced attorney who can provide guidance.
To begin, you must share all the evidence at your disposal with your attorney, including medical records and firsthand accounts supported by proof. They will use these details to build a strong case to present in court and secure the compensation you deserve.
Your lawyer will help manage your expectations about settlement amounts. TruLaw states that it is currently too early to establish the average settlement amount. Depending on claim strength, exposure level, and victims’ medical issues, compensation can vary from $10,000 to over $300,000. Hence, these figures should not be seen as the precise and definitive financial compensation for your situation.
Therefore, these figures should not be considered as the exact and final financial compensation for your case.
When you look around, you will discover that several cities, including Waco, have filed complaints regarding AFFF exposure. Typically, such actions are taken after years of suffering, which includes health issues among residents and environmental hazards. However, filing a legal complaint serves to raise awareness about the issue and prompts AFFF manufacturers to acknowledge their responsibility and make necessary changes.
AFFF exposure can affect anyone, and it’s essential to seek medical attention to prevent physical ailments from worsening. Once you’ve done that, it’s crucial to gather medical records and other evidence and pursue legal action.