A complaint filed earlier this month claims toxic “forever” chemicals in firefighting foams caused a man to develop testicular cancer. The claim indicates that the firefighting foam manufacturers withheld safety warnings about the side effects of using aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs).
The lawsuit, filed by Mark Austin Goldendale, WA, alleges that he developed testicular cancer following exposure to firefighting foam containing perfluorianted compounds (PFAS). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAS are man-made chemicals used to create products that resist stains, heat, grease, etc. Products that PFAS have been found in include furniture, plastics, heat-resistant non0stick cooking surfaces, and firefighting foams. Some dub PFAS “forever chemicals,” because they do not break down over time.
However, recent research revealed PFAS can cause cancer due to the build-up of chemicals in the body. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states that studies in humans with PFAS exposure have found that PFAS can increase the risk of some cancers.
“AFFF and its components are associated with a wide variety of adverse health effects in humans,” Austin’s lawsuit states. “Exposure to Defendants’ AFFF has been linked to serious medical conditions including, but not limited to, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, testicular tumors, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, bladder cancer, thyroid disease and infertility.”
Austin allegedly encountered PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams used during training and firefighting activities conducted during his career as a military and/or civilian firefighter. His claim names 3M Company, Chemguard, Inc., Corteva, Inc., and Du Pont De Nemours Inc., among others, as defendants in this case. 3M Company, Chemguard, Inc., and Tyco Fire Products already face many other firefighting foam injury lawsuits nationwide for their use of PFAS in firefighting foams.
Firefighting Foam Injury Litigation
Austin’s firefighting foam cancer lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, joining dozens of others from across the country. In December 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to centralize all federal firefighting foam injury lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for pretrial proceedings.