AFFF & Testicular Cancer Link: Is Legal Compensation Available?

AFFF foam cancer

AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) has been the major cause of multiple health hazards in firefighters. In August 2023, About Lawsuits highlighted new studies suggesting that AFFF exposure can increase testicular cancer risk amongst the U.S. Air Force population. These findings add to the research pool that links chemicals in AFFF to multiple health risks.

The researchers collaborated with the ‘National Cancer Institute’ in Maryland and discovered that Air Force professionals with heightened amounts of PFAS in drinking water are prone to testicular cancer five times more than others. All these findings got published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

AFFF has been used for several decades by the U.S. military branches for suppressing fuel-based fires. The foam comprises several chemical compounds, such as PFAS  (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances), commonly termed ‘forever chemicals’. It is because the compounds stay both in the human body and the environment for too long.

Today, the number of AFFF foam cancer lawsuits cases is growing. All the claims comprise allegations against AFFF exposure that inevitably led to kidney cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, along with testicular cancer.

In this article, we will discuss the link between testicular cancer and AFFF and learn how victims can file a lawsuit to recover their damages.

AFFF Foam Adversely Affects Firefighters

AFFF, which comprises PFAS, has been consistently used by the U.S. Air Force since the 1960s. The DOD (Department of Defense) today intends to gradually eradicate the use of this toxic foam by October 2024. Nonetheless, military bases are the prime regions of PFAS pollution because of AFFF ingredients in the water supply. Across the United States, around 3,493 military areas have PFAS-polluted water, causing health ailments.

In August 2023, PBS NewsHour featured the story of Gary Flook, a firefighter with the former Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. For almost 37 years in the Air Force, Flook worked as a firefighter at the ‘Chanute Air Force Base’ in Illinois, which is currently closed. During his working days, he had to train with AFFF foam, a white fire retardant that extinguishes fire but is highly toxic.

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Flook acted as a volunteer at the local fire department, a place where he unconsciously used AFFF foam, not being aware of its after-effects on his health. When he was 45 years old in 2020, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He needed an orchiectomy and chemotherapy for the treatment.

Others like Flook, who were exposed to AFFF and developed testicular cancer, can file a lawsuit to get the justice they deserve. Connecting with a lawyer who has experience in managing AFFF foam lawsuits can help. 

TorHoerman Law states that lawyers with relevant experience in managing AFFF foam cancer lawsuits work by collecting the required evidence. They evaluate the extent of damage and the cost linked to exposure to the toxic foam. They determine the liability for the injuries and recognize the parties accountable for a cancer diagnosis. Lastly, they guide you through the legal process and work hard to secure the settlement amount you deserve.

Understanding Testicular Cancer and Its Link with AFFF Foam

According to the Mayo Clinic, testicular cancer occurs when there’s abnormal cell growth in the testicles. Typically, it occurs between 15 years and 45 years of age. The initial sign includes a lump or bump on the testicle, which makes cancer cells grow faster and spread to other parts of the body.

The symptoms are:

  • A swelling or lump in either testicle
  • Persistent pain in the groin or lower belly
  • An abrupt swelling in the scrotum
  • Discomfort or pain in the testicle
  • Back pain
  • Tenderness or enlargement of breast tissue

There are multiple studies, such as “Studies of Cancer in Humans”, which indicate that both civilians and military personnel develop testicular cancer due to PFAS exposure. However, the link between AFFF foam and testicular cancer amongst the service members hasn’t been directly validated yet.

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In July 2023, a federal study featured a direct link between PFOS (a PFAS chemical) detected in the bloodstream of several military professionals and testicular cancer. 

Mark Purdue, who is a senior investigator at NCI, asserted that firefighters who develop testicular cancer exhibited increased PFOS serum levels compared to the ones without cancer. He added that this was the first study for evaluating PFAS levels present in the military population in the U.S.

Finally, in an Environmental Health Perspectives commentary, Kyle Steenland, who is a professor at Emory University, shared a valuable opinion. He said that the evidence linking PFAS to testicular cancer is sparse and more studies are needed.

Conclusion

Over the years, AFFF foam has affected the military and municipal firefighters, industrial workers, and people who worked for the leading AFFF manufacturers. The exposure has resulted in several health hazards and the development of chronic ailments, including testicular cancer.

Even though the medical community may call for more studies and evidence, victims shouldn’t shy away from filing a lawsuit if they have suffered from AFFF exposure. Using the guidance of an expert lawyer, firefighters or military professionals can file a claim and raise awareness surrounding this issue.

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