Delaware Blames 3M Company for AFFF Exposure Hazards


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Firefighters use AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) to diffuse dangerous fires, especially those that include flammable liquids, such as petroleum. But this foam made several firefighters develop cancer and other life-threatening health conditions later in life.


It’s because AFFF, or firefighter foam, contains PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that makes the mixture foamy and helps to develop a layer to extinguish the fire. There are two prominent types of PFAS available in AFFF, namely PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate).


These toxic chemicals are man-made. As a result, it doesn’t get broken down and persists both in nature and in humans once inhaled, causing harm to both. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the exposure to both PFOA and PFOS can result in cancer.


Considering the harmful health hazards of this toxic foam, government agencies have started to abolish PFAS and are phasing out AFFF. Recently, Delaware has sued 3M Company because of the health and environmental hazards caused by AFFF exposure. In this article, we will discuss this and how firefighters and others can claim compensation for their suffering.

Why Did Delaware Take Action Against 3M Company?

In October 2023, the Delaware Business Times talked about Kathy Jennings, the Attorney General of this U.S. state, who named 14 companies, including 3M Company as culprits. It was because these toxic foams have PFAS, the ‘forever chemicals’ that leached into aquifers and soils.


As highlighted in the firefighting foam lawsuit, after a single training exercise or event, there can be thousands of gallons of foam solution released into the air, layering it with PFAS. The inference came from the fact that AFFF was used for a long time at the Dover Air Force and New Castle County Airport.


The Delaware Department of Justice complained to the Superior Court after carrying out an in-depth investigation for more than two years. It comprised forensic analysis and environmental sampling, along with reviewing corporate records.


Kathy Jennings’s office had successfully negotiated a settlement payout of $50 million for the PFAS products from three companies–Corteva, Chemours, and DuPont. The defendants committed to pay a settlement amount of $1.1 billion nationwide for resolving the PFAS claims about drinking water.


The recent cases were filed against:

  • 3M Company
  • Deepwater Chemicals
  • Tyco Fire Products
  • Buckeye Fire Equipment
  • Chemguard
  • Clariant
  • ChemDesign Products
  • BASF
  • Archroma U.S
  • AGC Chemicals Americas
  • Dynax
  • Daikin America


According to Delaware state, these companies caused ample damage to its environment and affected the health of all residents. It occurred because their PFAS products were introduced to groundwater, streams, soils, rivers, and wildlife. Every company had manufactured and sold AFFF products that led to multiple kinds of cancer in humans and contaminated the environment.


Hence, the lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for damages caused to the natural resources. It also includes the expenses to test, manage, evaluate, and respond to the contamination.

Health Hazards Because of AFFF Exposure

Delaware’s bold step to sue 3M Company and others brought into light the health hazards of AFFF exposure as well. The EPA already considers this foam carcinogenic and says that it causes liver, kidney, prostate, and thyroid cancers.


There have been firefighters like Gary Flook who worked at the Air Force for 37 years. Since he was exposed to this harmful foam daily, he developed testicular cancer at a later stage of his life. 


According to a news report on in March 2024, PFAS can also result in high cholesterol levels and cause heart ailments. It is noted to be especially dangerous for younger people.


TorHoerman Law states that AFFF exposure can also hurt the immune system and disrupt the hormonal balance. That aside, it can also lead to:


  • Fertility issues and preeclampsia in pregnant women
  • Problems associated with fetal and child development
  • Increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease


Hence, it is essential for firefighters and others affected by AFFF exposure to get the necessary medical aid and seek legal compensation.

Working With a Lawyer is Essential

Have you been affected by PFAS foam as an occupational hazard? If so, you have the scope to get legal compensation. But you need to seek professional help. Even if you have strong medical evidence and healthcare data available at your end, you should not pursue the legal battle alone.


A good lawyer can make the best use of your proof and other details to build a strong case to obtain fair compensation for you. Once you opt for a free consultation with a lawyer, they will let you know if you qualify to file a lawsuit. If yes, they will guide you throughout the legal process. They will also let you know about the probable settlement payout, as there is no fixed amount.


In conclusion, AFFF exposure has affected firefighters, Air Force personnel, and others who inhaled this toxic foam. While the government is taking initiatives to phase out this foam, states like Delaware have already alleged 3M Company and other PFAS manufacturers, urging them to pay a certain amount to resolve the lawsuits. If you have developed a severe ailment after inhaling AFFF, you should seek both medical and legal aid.




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