AFFF Cancer Link Goes Beyond Firefighters. Navy Personnel Are Entering the Lawsuit as Well

It’s been a long, tough road for plaintiffs in the AFFF class action lawsuit. What started as a settlement case in 2021 about the concerns of firefighting foam has now translated into headline-grabbing news.

The most reported-on firefighting foam lawsuit is that of the International Association of Firefighters which accused the National Fire Protection Association of requiring PFAS in firefighter gear.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is a long-lasting chemical used in various commercial and industrial products. One such product is the haveAqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), used by firefighters across the U.S. 

Recent findings have discovered a potential link between exposure to AFFF and cancer. It was only a matter of time till firefighting foam cancer cases expanded to include the AFFF lawsuit by the Navy members.

Navy vets and Navy firefighters continually argued they, too, were exposed to the toxic substance while on the job. It was later found that PFAS got into their gear, skin, and hair.

Now that consumers and firefighters know what they’re up against, it’s important to adopt safer alternatives, believes TruLaw.

Navy Vet Claims Exposure to AFFF Led to Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

Ex-US Navy firefighter Michael Sloane says he developed testicular cancer after being exposed to AFFF. The substance was used to put out petroleum fires on military bases.

Sloane, who hails from Texas, named chemical and safety equipment manufacturers in his complaint. AboutLawsuits mentioned his case on its website and claimed the presence of the PFAS compounds in firefighting foams was the cause of his diagnosis.

While serving as a firefighter in the Navy from 1980 to 1983, Sloane argued that he was exposed to the chemicals. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2006 and added he was never warned of the potential health risks. Hence, this is what formed the basis of his case.

The lawsuit stated: “The descriptive labels and material safety data sheets for Defendants’ AFFF containing PFOA or PFOS and/or their precursor chemicals utilized by the United States Navy firefighters did not reasonably or adequately describe the AFFF’s risks to human health.”

Symptoms of Being Exposed to PFAS

More studies have been done on the human body’s exposure to PFAS since AFFF lawsuits started piling up. While it’s difficult to show how they directly cause diseases, it’s been proven that some PFAS could be linked to harmful effects in humans and animals.

Known to repel water, dirt and oil, PFAS are what are termed as “forever chemicals.” Because they take longer to break down, they’ve seeped into groundwater, soil and the food chain.

According to WebMD, high levels of PFAS in the body can lead to: 

  • High cholesterol
  • Fetal defects in the womb
  • Low birth weight
  • Early puberty
  • Higher risk of kidney, prostate, or testicular cancer
  • Thyroid diseases

The Link to Cancer

Environmental group EWG says PFAS contamination is most probably much wider and more widespread. Federal data shows tap water in the US tests positive for these “forever chemicals.” Basically, there’s no avoiding them.

While writing for the New Yorker, Sharon Lerner reported that 3M scientists discovered the chemicals were present in human blood from as early as the 1970s. They also found evidence of the compound being highly toxic. And yet, they continued to produce it.

Not identified as an official carcinogen, the potential link between PFAS and human cancers has been vigorously studied. They can disrupt cell metabolism and immune functions and cause DNA damage. 

“The strongest epidemiological evidence shows that kidney and testicular cancers are associated with higher levels of PFAS,” says Dr Kirsten Moysich, Professor of Oncology, Cancer Prevention & Control at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

How to Prevent PFAS Exposure

Reducing exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals is possible. Taking three simple steps can help you avoid them.

Drinking Water

Some water filters are known to decrease or even eliminate PFAS chemicals. If you’re unsure of what’s in your drinking water, EWG’s tap water database can provide answers.

Food Packaging

PFAS can be found in many food packaging, from storage containers to microwave popcorn bags. To limit your exposure, avoid microwave popcorn and consuming takeout food that comes in paper-board and paper-based packaging.


Some fabrics are treated with PFAS chemicals. EWG warned anything with the label of “water”, “grease” or “stain-resistant”, is likely to be coated or treated with PFAS.  

The organization urged consumers not to purchase aftermarket waterproofing stain-proofing treatments – unless it’s PFAS-free. Buy clothing from brands with an environmentally safe ethos. Use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter.

Chances are the threat of forever chemicals isn’t going anywhere soon. But, with careful consideration for your life and the environment, you can prevent yourself and your family from becoming another statistic.