AFFF manufacturers are on the verge of facing legal repercussions for producing carcinogenic firefighting foams. A growing number of firefighters and civilians are filing lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers, including DuPont and 3M.
Why is there such an outcry over firefighting foam? Firefighters use this foam to extinguish dangerous fires and save people’s lives. However, they risk their own lives in the long run because the foam can lead to life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Recent news updates state that 3M will have to pay a substantial amount as a settlement. In this article, we will delve into this and discuss how you can obtain a settlement if you have been affected by AFFF.
What Is AFFF?
Simply put, AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) is used for extinguishing fires. Fire departments use it to combat liquid-based fires, such as those ignited by gasoline, oil, and various other flammable liquids.
AFFF is toxic due to the presence of PFAS (per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in it, which adversely affects human health. PFAS doesn’t break down easily and remains in human bodies, wildlife, and the environment. In humans, it can cause various types of cancer, lead to reproductive impairment, and hurt the immune system’s response.
3M Expected to Shell Out A Huge PFAS Settlement Amount
For decades, AFFF has been used to extinguish petroleum or chemical fires at airports, industrial facilities, and military bases. But once the chemicals from AFFF are discharged, they can reach groundwater, surface water, and the soil.
There are several cases in the MDL (Multi-district Litigation) that claim PFAS contamination resulting from a combination of other PFAS-induced products and AFFF. These chemicals can enter water supplies through landfills, wastewater treatment plants, or other local sources.
In June 2023, Water Finance & Management reported that 3M, the chemical manufacturing company, had agreed to pay nearly $10.3 billion for lawsuit settlements. The lawsuits are linked to water contamination caused by PFAS.
If the court approves, it will be the largest water contamination settlement in the history of the United States. It also represents a significant step toward ensuring the security of drinking water from PFAS. The settlement will be distributed over 13 years to water providers who are part of the MDL.
Mike Roman, Chairman of 3M, said that this deal is a crucial step toward implementing the company’s decision to phase out PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) in 2020. It also marks an initiative to invest in advanced water filtration technology for their chemical manufacturing operations. 3M aims to cease PFAS production by the end of 2025.
As of the August 2023 update on AFFF lawsuits, all claims filed by municipalities and local water authorities have been resolved in the global settlement agreement. DuPont, 3M, and other defendants will pay a large amount to resolve these claims.
Once the water contamination cases are resolved, the focus will shift to individual claims made by military personnel and firefighters affected by this compound. The goal will be to help them obtain their AFFF lawsuit settlement amounts.
How Can You Claim Your Settlement Amount?
It is misleading to assume that only firefighters, navy/army personnel, and airport workers are affected by AFFF. Even ordinary citizens who aren’t affiliated with any of these professions can be affected.
This chemical is present in the vicinity of the factories that produce it. Hence, as the waste moves through the ground, it can contaminate groundwater and waterways, thereby affecting the lives of people who consume water from these resources.
Direct exposure to AFFF can lead to various health hazards, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and more. Therefore, if you or anyone you know has been affected by AFFF, it is crucial to undergo medical testing and use the findings to file a lawsuit and obtain a settlement amount.
Ideally, you would need to get in touch with a lawyer and share your case history for them to guide you through the process. You need to present them with solid evidence, including medical records, employment data, cancer/disease diagnosis information, history of AFFF exposure, and any other data that validates your claim.
The way the earlier MDL litigation has progressed, all the current MDL lawsuits are expected to move toward a global settlement. AFFF lawyers estimate that top-tier plaintiffs can receive a settlement ranging from $200,000 to $500,000. In contrast, second-tier plaintiffs might receive an amount between $150,000 and $300,000. The settlement amount for a firefighting foam lawsuit can be nearly $75,000 or slightly less.
TorHoerman Law states that the settlement amount depends on the level and duration of AFFF exposure. Other factors that contribute to determining the settlement amount include cancer diagnosis data, treatment costs, medical bills, and punitive and other compensatory damages. Based on the data and evidence provided by victims, the lawyers will identify the companies responsible for the injuries and obtain compensation accordingly.
AFFF exposure doesn’t just affect firefighters but also lay people who have traces of this toxic substance in their systems. While military personnel, firefighters, and airport workers need to share their concerns regarding AFFF exposure, others shouldn’t hesitate to voice their problems as well.
Other than helping victims receive the compensation they deserve, the growing number of AFFF lawsuits is raising awareness about its impact on human health. If you’ve been affected by AFFF foam, it is necessary to seek medical treatment and legal assistance.