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AFFF Exposure and Liver Disease: Is There a Connection?

  • May 6, 2024
  • 5 min read
AFFF Exposure and Liver Disease: Is There a Connection?

Recently, scientists have discovered a strong link between AFFF exposure and liver disease. According to a new study, foam that used in firefighting has a specific chemical, PFAS, which is also known as ‘forever chemicals’ and is the root of all health issues. This toxic chemical remains in nature and the human body for years, causing problems for both.

The JHEP reports state that earlier research done on animals revealed that PFAS exposure posed a higher risk of liver cancer. But now the effect is even visible to humans. Jesse Goodrich, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the Keck School of Medicine, stated that liver cancer is one of the severe endpoints in liver ailments. It is the first study done on humans to highlight if PFAS exposure has any link to it.

This article will shed light on this link and will also discuss whether AFFF exposure victims can seek compensation for their suffering.

Effects of AFFF Exposure to Liver Health

PFAS is a combination of synthetic chemicals used widely in daily and industry products, like fire retardants, stain-resistant fabric, food packaging, and cosmetics. Considering this widespread exposure, the chemical is found in the bloodstream of almost all U.S. adults. It gets accumulated in their body tissues, for instance, the liver, leading to long-term health risks. Today, there is evidence that PFAS can cause changes in metabolism and disturb liver homeostasis.

Lida Chatzi is a NIEHS grantee who shared her findings on this issue at a webinar that was hosted by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Her team had conducted the very first meta-analysis and systematic review of the scientific literature on PFAS exposure and the markers of liver disease. This research was published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, which drew from 25 human and 86 rodent studies.

The rodent review studies associated liver injury markers with PFAS exposure. Additionally, the meta-analysis of the human studies offered interesting proof that exposure to this chemical is linked with increased liver enzyme levels, which is a sign of liver disease. Chatzi asserted that the combined outcome of both human and experimental studies confirms the fact that PFAS exposure causes liver issues, which is a fast-growing epidemic now.

That means, if you were exposed to ‘forever chemicals’ while taking part in firefighting training sessions or at a work site and developed any liver problem, you can file a firefighter foam lawsuit. Last month there were 500 new case entries, which suggests that people are waking up to the health hazards of this toxic foam.

An Acute Health Issue

Nearly 80 million people in the United States suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It comprises two in every ten young adults and kids. Risk factors like diet, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle fail to explain all the reasons for this epidemic. Hence, researchers have an urge to look into the environmental factors as well.

The latest evidence from animal and human studies revealed that PFAS exposure can disrupt endocrine chemicals, which can cause toxicant-associated fatty liver disease. Chatzi further shared that considering the increased prevalence of ‘forever chemicals’ in the environment, people can inhale them, even when they are not working as firefighters.

She also stated that to resolve this issue, there is a need for a solution-driven approach. One that will incorporate novel data science, human research, experimental studies, and execution strategies. The objective is to opt for evidence-oriented prevention approaches.

How to Obtain Compensation?

Over the years, numerous firefighters have filed lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers in an attempt to get compensated. TorHoerman Law states that based on the April 2024 updates, Tyco Fire Products agreed to a settlement amount of $750 million in AFFF litigation. The complaints focused on public water system contamination because of PFAS exposure. It was followed by other settlements with defendants like DuPont and 3M Company.

That means if you have been affected with any chronic liver condition after getting exposed to PFAS at your job or otherwise, you can file a lawsuit. There is hope for you to obtain the compensation that you deserve. For that, you must consult a lawyer who will determine whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit. 

After that, they will choose crucial pieces of evidence like medical records, healthcare data, and duration of PFAS exposure to build a compelling case so that the verdict is in your favor. That way, you will get the settlement payout that you deserve to cover for all the medical expenses and losses you’ve endured.

In conclusion, people think that firefighters have no dangers to face once they move out of a site after extinguishing the fire. But unfortunately, it’s the firefighting foam that has toxic chemicals like PFAS causing a host of health issues, which include liver disease. Ample research and studies confirm this claim. Hence, if you are certain that your liver problem stems from PFAS exposure you should seek both medical and legal aid.

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