Fire outbreaks are, in many cases, devastating. When they occur, the authorities often move at speed to contain the fires using the available fire suppressants such as Firefighting foam. But did you know that increased use of the foam can have adverse health effects? Well, in this article, we will explore more on what you ought to know about firefighting foam and the hazardous effects associated with its prolonged use.
What is firefighting foam?
For starters, firefighting foam is used in the suppression of fire. The primary role is to cool the fire and to coat the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen. This leads to decreased combustion, therefore, putting out the fire.
Firefighting aqueous film-forming foam solution often has perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). These two substances are found in a large family of manmade chemical compounds and have been known to be harmful to human health.
Dangers of using firefighting foam
Studies have shown that the compounds present in the firefighting foam are persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic. They can accumulate in the human body for long periods. When you are exposed to the perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic compounds for long, and in high concentrations, they will build-up in the body. Consequently, the build-up leads to adverse health effects. Yes, evidence shows that compounds in firefighting foam have health effects, which include the potential to cause cancer, low birth weight, and cardiovascular disease, etc.
Moreover, the compounds in the foam have been found to contaminate water sources. The unpleasant result has been a high concentration of the harmful compounds in surface water and groundwater. This has, consequently, posed a significant health risk to aquatic life. As a ripple effect, it also poses risks to humans consuming the contaminated water and the aquatic animals.
Now, what happens if this has led to a disease or death? In case you or your family are experiencing the negative impact of firefighting foam, then you can file a firefighting foam lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney. This is a lawsuit against liable authorities to compensate for damages caused to you or your family member by the adverse effects of firefighting foam. You certainly deserve compensation for the damages, pain, and suffering caused by a chemical that has long been known to be harmful to human health, yet still in use!
How to protect yourself against exposure
As a fighter or an individual involved in firefighting using the foam, it is imperative to understand the measures that you should take to protect yourself from its adverse effects.
For example, it’s worth noting that the compounds present in the foam can be ingested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled through exposure in the atmosphere. Therefore, firefighting personnel should practice the following control measures to stay safe from exposure:
- You should replace the older firefighting aqueous film-forming foam stocks with fluorine-free foam solutions.
- Make sure to contain and manage the aqueous film-forming foam and water runoff.
- While extinguishing the fire, wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) every time you are handling aqueous film-forming foam (AFF).
- Ensure to remove and bag contaminated PPE before transporting it properly.
- Make sure to use cleaning wipes on your face, neck, and hands immediately after exposure.
- Once you return home from firefighting, make sure to shower within one hour.
While it is difficult to completely do away with the firefighting foam for its purpose in extinguishing fires, it is crucial to be familiar with the possible health effects of its prolonged usage. As you have seen, firefighting foam not only affects the environment but it can also directly affect your health. That is precisely why you need to take appropriate measures while using the foam to prevent any possible harm. You should also speak to a firefighting foam lawyer in case you have cancer or any disease caused by its chemicals.