Toxic Firefighting Foam & the U.S. Military: What We Know!

by | May 21, 2020 | Resources, Service Connected, Veteran's Benefits

Toxic Firefighting Foam & the U.S. Military: What We Know!

If you, or someone you love, has developed cancer after being exposed to toxic firefighting foam, please call us right away!

It’s the 1960s, and researchers for the U.S. Navy began testing a new form of firefighting foam that would be able to extinguish flames quite rapidly.

Just a decade later, in the 1970s, this type of foam was being used widely, across most military bases in the United States, as well as at a slew of airports, fire departments, and oil refineries. The foams, known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used it’s perfluorinated chemicals and their hydrophobic and surfactant elemental properties to seal fuel that’s burning, helping to prevent any further type of ignition once a fire has been extinguished.

It’s now 2020, and researchers are more aware of the fact that these same chemicals have become a primary source of cancer for the folks that have had prolonged exposure. Chemicals called per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been detected to increase a person’s ability to develop cancers such as bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

The CDC found roughly four PFAS chemicals in blood samples of Americans tested, indicating that there is a “widespread exposure” to these elements across the nation. Sadly, these chemicals are called ‘forever chemicals’ because there is an incredibly low probability of them breaking down, and more so a higher potential for them to be present for the foreseeable future, constantly ruminating through our immediate environment.

Types of Cancer Due to Foam

As of right now, AFFF’s that are known to contain PFOA and PFOS have been linked to the following types of cancer:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer

As well as lymphoma, leukemia, melanoma, and neuroendocrine tumors.

PFAS-containing foams will sadly, most likely stay in use at military bases going forward, as in 2019, Congress instructed the military that they needed to begin phasing out PFAS within their foam by 2024.

The Air Force, the individuals who are the most likely to suffer from cancer linked to AFFF spent nearly $11M replacing and removing old, outdated, AFFF, according to a statement from a spokesperson.

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