A recently filed product liability lawsuit claims a former Mississippi firefighter developed prostate cancer following years of exposure to firefighting foam. Increasing studies have found toxic chemicals in firefighting foam can increase the risk of developing cancer including prostate, kidney, liver, and ovarian cancer.
On July 29, Dewayne Miles filed his complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Miles, who fought fires in both military and civilian positions, claims he was regularly exposed to toxic aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) during his firefighting career. Miles indicates in the claim that AFFF manufactures knew for decades that their foam was toxic due to the addition of substances known as PFAS.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals designed to resist heat, stains, grease, and water. They were first introduced to the market in the 1940’s and have since been added to firefighting foams, plastics, food products, and packaging.
However, since they were introduced into the marketing industry, studies indicate PFAS can build up in users’ bloodstreams and cause severe side effects. Health officials from the CDC found PFAS can settle in the blood, liver, and kidneys, causing tumors where they settle. Now, numerous studies link PFAS exposure to cancers including pancreatic, ovarian, testicular, and kidney cancer.
Miles’ lawsuit calls out popular AFFF manufactures for negligence, including Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard Incl, and Du Pont Nemours Inc. According to other lawsuits like Miles’, AFFF manufacturers knew about the cancer risks of PFAS in firefighting foam and still sold to the public without proper health warnings.
“Defendants did not warn public entities, firefighter trainees who they knew would foreseeably come into contact with their AFFF products, or firefighters employed by either civilian and/or military employers that use of and/or exposure to Defendants’ AFFF products containing PFAS and/or its precursors would pose a danger to human health,” the lawsuit states. “The Plaintiff was never informed that this product was inherently dangerous. Nor was the Plaintiff warned about the known health risks associated with this product.”