In this ever-changing world, a pressing issue demands your attention: PFAS contamination. It may not be a term you hear daily, but it affects everyone in ways you might not realize. PFAS, short for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, are synthetic chemicals found in various everyday products. It includes firefighting foam known as Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF).
Why should you care about PFAS contamination? These persistent chemicals can silently seep into your water supply, contaminating the very source of life that flows from your tap.
The article you’re about to read is essential because it equips you with knowledge about PFAS contamination. It identifies its consequences and your rights in the face of this hidden danger.
What are PFAS and What Makes Them Harmful?
PFAS are man-made chemicals that are a big environmental concern. They resist water, oil, and heat, used in many industries. But they stay in the environment and may harm health. These can be found in everyday items like cookware, fabrics, and food packaging. Also used in firefighting foam, like AFFF, is considered effective but harms the people and the environment.
The problem with PFAS lies in their non-biodegradable nature. They accumulate in the environment, including water sources, soil, and wildlife, posing a risk to all living organisms. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to conditions like cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and developmental problems in children.
AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) and Its Use
AFFF is a firefighting foam designed to combat fires fueled by flammable liquids like oil and gasoline. It has been a critical tool in fire suppression efforts, especially in industrial settings, airports, and military operations. AFFF is effective because it forms a blanket-like film on the surface of the fire, cutting off the oxygen supply and extinguishing the flames.
The foam’s composition includes water, PFAS, and a foaming agent. The PFAS provides the foam with its unique ability to quickly spread and cover the burning liquid. It creates a barrier that prevents the fire from reigniting. It has made AFFF a valuable tool for fire safety, particularly when ordinary water-based firefighting methods are ineffective.
Recognizing the Impact of PFAS Contamination
One essential thing to know is that PFAS don’t break down naturally; they build up in soil, water, and living things. It is concerning because it can lead to serious health problems like cancer, thyroid issues, immune system troubles, and developmental problems in kids. Also, PFAS in drinking water has caused widespread worry as communities deal with polluted water.
Due to these impacts, the Department of Defense (DoD) has taken a big step forward to counter PFAS use, reports Military Times. It formally demands that the newer firefighting foam it purchases be free of PFAS, which has polluted several military locations.
Additionally, on January 6, the Pentagon released a fresh military specification in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. It also mandated that the government cease purchasing aqueous film-forming foam containing PFAS by October. It will further continue for the next year to end all usage completely.
The Emergence of AFFF Lawsuits
As people become more aware of the dangers posed, particularly from AFFF, legal action has gained momentum. These lawsuits seek to hold manufacturers, users, and responsible parties accountable for the harm caused by PFAS-containing firefighting foam.
The AFFF lawsuit typically focuses on several key aspects. First, these lawsuits aim to establish the connection between PFAS exposure and health problems. It demonstrates the link between AFFF use and the resulting contamination. They also target organizations and entities that used or stored AFFF, alleging negligence in handling these hazardous substances.
Moreover, TruLaw states that evidence plays a crucial role here. You should try to collect and keep any relevant proof for your case. Track your cancer diagnosis and additional health issues, and make copies of your bills and documents.
Additionally, keep any further evidence secure for your lawyer to handle. These legal actions highlight the importance of addressing PFAS contamination comprehensively. They seek compensation for affected individuals and communities while advocating for stricter regulations and safer alternatives to AFFF.
Eligibility for AFFF Lawsuits
Eligibility often hinges on a documented connection between PFAS exposure and adverse health effects. Medical records and scientific evidence can be crucial in establishing this link. Individuals and communities affected by contaminated drinking water sources may also be eligible for legal action. It is essential to hold those responsible for the contamination accountable.
Furthermore, eligibility can extend to entities and organizations that used, stored, or manufactured AFFF. These parties may be liable for damages caused by their actions or negligence in handling these hazardous substances.
The Process of Filing an AFFF Lawsuit
First, you should talk to a lawyer who knows about PFAS problems. They’ll look into your situation, like how much you were around AFFF and what harm it caused you. They’ll also collect proof, like your medical records, water quality info, and evidence of AFFF use nearby.
After they’re ready, your lawyer will officially start your case by suing the people who caused the PFAS issues. It is to make them take responsibility for the harm they’ve done because of PFAS contamination.
Furthermore, you can also file a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), an in-demand litigation process. Here, you can collectively file lawsuits with other plaintiffs together, against the manufacturers.
For instance, an MDL pending in the South Carolina United States District Court is currently receiving a lot of attention. According to the League of Minnesota Cities, the court handles over 2,500 claims regarding AFFFs and PFAS pollution.
Several local governments are suing MDL-2873 to recover the costs associated with the tainted public water systems. Individuals with conventional product liability lawsuits who claim that AFFF exposure-induced cancer are also involved.
Compensation and Damages
When pursuing legal action, compensation typically covers several key areas. Medical expenses are a primary consideration, as PFAS exposure can lead to various health problems. Thus, compensation aims to alleviate the financial burden of medical bills and treatments associated with these issues.
Property damage is another crucial factor. Contaminated water can harm homes, causing damage to plumbing systems and property values. Compensation can help cover the costs of repairs and property devaluation. Sometimes, compensation may extend to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Legal Action Seeks Rightful Compensation
Understanding PFAS contamination and your rights is paramount in a growing environmental crisis. Even Mr. Ken Calvert, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, notes that foam raises many issues. According to him, the issue with PFAS is that it’s an extremely efficient fire remedy. Thus, it becomes a compulsion for officials to use it during crises, reports Colorado Newsline.
The other issue is also the fact that it is indestructible. These are significant challenges; thus, a solution and a substitute must be found. However, you can contribute to a safer, cleaner future by pursuing your rights and holding responsible parties accountable. It’s a collective effort to protect your health and preserve the planet from the harms of PFAS contamination.