Firefighter Foam Health Issues in South Dakota Veterans: Is There Scope for Compensation?

The lives of firefighters might appear heroic from a distance! But reality seems to be different. Even though walking into a building or any other property on fire and saving people might appear brave, there is a cost attached to it. That is their quality of life, which has a chance to deteriorate incrementally because of the firefighting foam they use, which is known to cause several health hazards.

Typically, firefighters use AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) that is effective in extinguishing challenging fires, especially those that involve flammable liquids and petroleum, called Class B fires. The foam has PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) causing health and environmental hazards.

The other term for PFAS is ‘forever chemicals’ because they stay in the human body and environment for a prolonged time. This automatically increases the risk of various types of cancer in humans. To date, volunteer and professional firefighters are the sections of people who are majorly affected by AFFF exposure daily.

It is also essential to know that firefighting foam is not a recent invention. It has been in use since 1902 for extinguishing oil fires because water wasn’t sufficient to control them. And as years passed, the American military came up with AFFF, which was used by domestic firefighting operations to cease major fires.

AFFF exposure so far has affected several people across the globe and has caused diseases like bladder cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, and high cholesterol levels. In recent times, it has also affected veterans in South Dakota. In this article, we will delve into this and also find out how to seek compensation to cover any losses.

Sufferings of South Dakota Veterans Due to AFFF Exposure

In September 2023, reported that several military veterans who had served at the Joe Foss Field Air National Guard Station located in Sioux Falls had suffered because of firefighting foam exposure. These veterans today are part of national class-action lawsuits claiming their firefighter foam cash settlements for the damages they have endured.

Most of the lawsuits revolved around gastrointestinal issues, hormonal problems, and cancers that were an after-effect of getting exposed to forever chemicals contained in AFFF. The foam was used for over 60 years to cease petroleum fires in military installations and airports in the United States.

That is not all. The toxic chemical is now considered the main reason for polluting drinking water systems and groundwater wells across the country. The civilians who worked and resided close to or at the military facilities fell sick and are a part of the ongoing legal cases.

It is indeed unfortunate to know that, in most cases, the military was aware of the risks linked to AFFF exposure. Despite that, they failed to act until such time that the ailments among South Dakota veterans started surfacing.

A veteran named Jerry Somsen from Webster reported having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease because of exposure to toxic AFFF fumes. There is Casey Kenrick from Rapid City, who suffered from ulcerative colitis for the same reason. They all have filed a class-action lawsuit, hoping to receive fair compensation to cover the damages and physical suffering they have faced because of the harmful chemical exposure.

Can Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve?

To date, there are more than 2,500 AFFF lawsuits consolidated at the MDL. Manufacturers like 3M have been asked to shell out $850 million to Minnesota State to cover the losses because of PFAS environmental contamination. Additionally, names like Corteva, Chemours, and DuPont agreed to pay $4 billion as a settlement payout to resolve several lawsuits.

Therefore, if you have been affected by AFFF exposure, you can file a lawsuit and receive the monetary compensation that you deserve. However, for this, you need to get in touch with an expert lawyer who will help you navigate the claims process and ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that can cancel out your compensation.

Other than making the best use of the crucial evidence that you collect and submit, the lawyers also guide you about the probable payouts so that you have a practical expectation. TruLaw states that firefighting foam lawsuit payouts can range between $10,000 and can go beyond $300,000. The settlement amount mostly depends on the exposure level, ailments suffered, and the severity of individual suffering.

To sum up, the firefighting foam lawsuits are helping to raise awareness concerning the hazardous health effects of AFFF exposure. It urges the firefighters and other individuals affected by the toxic foam to get a medical diagnosis and use the medical evidence to file a lawsuit and seek the necessary compensation. Furthermore, it also urges manufacturers to stop manufacturing foams with harsh chemicals and resort to fluorine-free options to ensure health and environmental safety.