Health

The Dark Side of Aqueous Firefighting Foam: A Toxic Threat to Your Health

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Aqueous film-forming firefighting foam (AFFF) may seem like a lifesaver in emergencies, but it has a dark side. This foam contains PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances), toxic chemicals that threaten human health. 

Direct exposure to AFFF can occur during firefighting, training exercises, or accidental spills. Indirect exposure can happen through contaminated groundwater, soil, and food sources. 

PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, can accumulate in your body over time. Its build-up can cause various health issues, from as minor as skin irritation to as severe as cancer. It’s crucial to understand the risks. You can then take precautionary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from harm. 

The Health Risks of AFFF Exposure

AFFF has been a popular fire suppressant in the US for decades. But as already mentioned, the foam contains toxic chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals can cause several health problems, which are discussed further in the article.

If you suspect that you have developed any of those issues due to exposure to aqueous firefighting foam, it is essential to file a lawsuit. Filing a firefighter foam cancer lawsuit against the manufacturers can help you get the compensation you deserve. It can also hold them liable for failing to notify the public about the dangers of their product.

It’s a good idea to contact an expert law firm for help in appealing for your rights. The law firm you hire must have a proven history of success. TorHoerman Law LLC, for example, has experience handling several class action lawsuits. 

Lawyers at TorHoerman Law have helped victims recover more than $4 billion in settlements and verdicts. So, check out if you have suffered the below conditions due to AFFF exposure. If yes, seek legal help. If not, take preventative measures.

Cancer 

When AFFF is used to put out a fire, it releases PFAS chemicals into the environment. These chemicals can contaminate soil and water, which can then be ingested by humans and animals. 

Once inside the body, PFAS chemicals can accumulate in tissues and organs. Over some time, they start to interfere with cellular processes. This causes inflammation and damages the DNA. This damage can result in the emergence of numerous cancer types. 

However, it’s more known to cause prostate and kidney cancer. The study analyzed data from over 20,000 individuals. It found that those with higher levels of PFAS in their blood had a significantly higher risk of developing these types of cancer. The study also suggested that the association between PFAS exposure and cancer risk may be dose-dependent. Higher levels of exposure may result in a greater risk of cancer.

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AFFF exposure can occur through various means, including inhalation, consumption, and absorption through the skin. Firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers are most likely to develop cancer due to AFFF exposure. Additionally, individuals who live near airports, military bases, or sources of contamination may also be at risk.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer due to AFFF exposure, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Regular cancer screenings are also necessary to prevent and detect cancer early.

Liver Damage

As AFFF enters your body, its chemical accumulates in the liver. The accumulation reduces the liver’s ability to filter toxins. This can lead to liver inflammation, liver failure, and even liver cancer in severe cases.

Symptoms of AFFF liver damage include jaundice, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms after exposure to AFFF, get medical help immediately.

Avoid ingesting or inhaling the foam to protect yourself from AFFF liver damage. If you operate in a profession that often uses AFFF, adhere to basic safety standards. Also, receive regular medical checkups to monitor your liver function.

Skin Irritation

When AFFF comes into contact with your skin, it can cause irritation and inflammation. This happens because chemicals in it penetrate the skin’s outer layer and disrupt the natural balance of oils and water in the skin. This disruption can cause redness, itching, and dryness.

Symptoms of AFFF skin irritation include redness, itching, dryness, and scaling. In severe cases, blisters and open sores may develop. These symptoms might be unpleasant and interfere with your ability to work or do everyday chores.

According to research, contact dermatitis accounts for 90-95% of industrial skin infection occurrences in the US. This is because many workers are exposed to various chemicals, solvents, and other irritants in their work environments. This can cause skin irritation and inflammation over time. This makes it a common problem for workers in a variety of industries. 

Taking the proper measures and getting medical assistance will lower your chances of developing skin issues due to AFFF exposure. To protect yourself from AFFF skin irritation, it’s essential to use protective clothing and gear, such as gloves and goggles. If you come into contact with AFFF, quickly clean the exposed area with soap and water. Get medical help if your symptoms continue or aggravate.

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Kidney Damage 

When you come into contact with AFFF, it enters your bloodstream and gets filtered through your kidneys. Over time, this exposure can cause kidney damage and renal disorders.

Symptoms of kidney damage caused by AFFF exposure include decreased urine output, blood in your urine, and swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet. You may also experience fatigue, nausea, and difficulty concentrating.

To protect yourself, it’s essential to limit your exposure to AFFF as much as possible. While working with AFFF, use safety equipment such as gloves and a mask, and avoid drinking or eating it. You must also get checked out if you have any symptoms of renal dysfunction.

A recent study revealed that people with greater levels of PFAS were diagnosed with kidney cancer. Furthermore, American firefighters have a higher death rate due to renal disorders. Therefore, it’s essential to take precautions to protect yourself from the harmful effects of AFFF.

Other Severe Health Problems

When exposed to AFFF, you might experience hormone disruption. This affects the balance of estrogen and testosterone, leading to reproductive problems. The chemicals in AFFF can also cause neurological issues such as memory loss, seizures, and tremors. Your immune system can also be affected. This can lead to autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

AFFF chemicals can also impact your reproductive health, leading to infertility, miscarriages, and congenital disabilities. According to a peer-reviewed study by Danish experts, a male baby exposed to PFAS during early pregnancy is likelier to have inferior sperm quality in early adulthood. Unfortunately, these health problems cannot be easily treated, and some may be irreversible.

It’s crucial to be aware of the risks of AFFF exposure, primarily if you work in firefighting or live near a facility that uses it. To protect yourself and your loved ones, avoid exposure to AFFF; if you suspect you’ve been exposed, seek medical attention immediately. Don’t take your health for granted; be proactive in protecting it.

Key Takeaways

Aqueous Firefighting Foam (AFFF) is a lifesaver in emergencies. It quickly extinguishes fires and saves lives. But at the cost of your health. So, next time you see AFFF in action, remember the dark side and be cautious. Your health is valuable, and prevention is preferable to cure.

 

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