Thursday, July 18

Living Near a Military Base? Let’s Discuss AFFF Contamination and Your Health

Living near a military base offers a unique sense of community and patriotism. However, there’s a recent environmental concern residents should be aware of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) contamination.

This firefighting foam, used extensively for decades, contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” Studies suggest PFAS can linger in the environment and human body, potentially impacting health.

In this article, we will dive deeper into this topic and explore how AFFF contamination might affect you.

What is AFFF Contamination and How Does it Happen?

AFFF is highly effective at extinguishing petroleum-based fires. Unfortunately, the firefighting foam’s effectiveness comes at a cost. PFAS chemicals in AFFF are resistant to water and heat. They remain in the environment as a result, which makes them perfect for battling fires.

AFFF is used by military sites for both realistic firefighting scenarios and training exercises. Soil and groundwater can get contaminated over time by spills, runoff from training grounds, and inappropriate disposal. Frontiers reports that one of the main causes of PFAS pollution in drinking water is firefighting training grounds.

How Can AFFF Contamination Affect My Health?

While research is still being done, exposure to PFAS has been connected to a number of health issues. According to the ATSDR, potential health risks include an increased risk of some malignancies, such as kidney and testicular cancer. In addition, it may result in thyroid issues, impaired immune system performance, and issues with fetal development.

The length and intensity of exposure determine how serious the health impacts will be. It makes sense to have your blood tested for PFAS if you’re worried about possible health problems.

VA Claims and Lawsuits

Veterans who served near AFFF training areas or firefighting operations may be eligible to file VA disability claims. The government has established guidelines for processing VA claims for exposure to AFFF. This includes a list of presumptive conditions associated with AFFF exposure such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and ulcerative colitis.

Additionally, TorHoerman Law notes that civilians living near contaminated military bases have been filing class-action lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers or the military. According to the Lawsuit Information Center, more than 250 additional cases were added to the AFFF class action MDL in May 2024. There are now 8,270 cases ongoing in the MDL.

Consulting with an attorney specializing in PFAS contamination is recommended to explore your options.

Staying Informed and Protecting Yourself

Staying informed about AFFF contamination in your area is crucial. Local environmental agencies or military base representatives might have information on testing programs or water safety measures.

CNN notes that PFAS have been detected in the blood of 98% of American citizens. If you have concerns about your drinking water, consider getting it tested for PFAS. The EPA has a list of certified laboratories that can perform PFAS testing. Additionally, some filtration systems can remove PFAS from water.

Advocacy and Community Engagement

Public awareness and advocacy are essential in addressing AFFF contamination. Consider contacting your local representatives to urge stricter regulations on PFAS use and faster cleanup efforts.

Joining community groups focused on AFFF contamination can provide support and resources. Residents can fight for a healthy environment and hold polluters accountable by banding together.

Communities impacted by PFAS pollution can get tools and information from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, non-profit groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) advocate for stricter PFAS regulations and can be valuable resources for residents.

FAQs

Does all AFFF contain PFAS?

No, not all AFFF contains PFAS. Newer formulations are emerging that are PFAS-free, but many older AFFF types still contain these chemicals.

Does AFFF cause kidney disease?

There is growing evidence linking PFAS exposure in AFFF to an increased risk of kidney disease. Studies are ongoing, but research suggests PFAS may harm the kidneys’ ability to filter waste products.

What is another name for AFFF?

AFFF also goes by other names, including film-forming fluoroprotein foam (FFFP) and aqueous film-forming fluoroprotein (AR-AFFF). These variations all refer to firefighting foams that may contain PFAS.

In conclusion, living near a military base with AFFF contamination necessitates caution. While the full picture of health risks is emerging, potential links to serious health problems exist.

Residents should be aware of testing options for themselves and their water. Community action is crucial to advocate for stricter PFAS regulations and ensure faster cleanups. Through united efforts, residents can safeguard their health and hold polluters accountable.

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