AFF Workers’ Comp May 2020 Update: Firefighting Foam & Cancer

Chemical-based firefighting foam has been sold for decades because of its effectiveness in extinguishing jet fuel and petroleum fires. However, it may cause various types of cancer — most notably kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancer — in firefighters who were regularly exposed to the foam.

Known officially as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), firefighting foam creates a blanket that cuts off the fuel from the oxygen it needs to burn. To help smother the fire, chemicals known as Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were, and in some circumstances, still are used.

Major health organizations, including,  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have noted that certain PFAS may be linked to cancer in firefighters. 

In fact, the EPA has classified PFAS as “emerging contaminants.” meaning they are likely dangerous to human health.

Cancers associated with PFAS include:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Prostate cancer

Because firefighters are regularly exposed to carcinogens such as firefighting foam, California law establishes a presumption that cancer in firefighters is work-related. 

Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone is dedicated to helping public safety officers obtain compensation when they are diagnosed with cancer. Firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer are encouraged to consult with one of our attorneys.

Michael Bannan, Esq. Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone