Many foams used by fire departments contain toxins known to cause kidney, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. Routine exposure to these toxic chemicals poses a significant threat to the health and safety of firefighters across Nevada. There are currently multiple class-action lawsuits in progress to recover compensation for firefighters who have suffered injuries caused by toxic firefighting foam.

Hazards of Firefighting Foam

Firefighting foams are chemical-based concoctions designed to extinguish fires as quickly as possible. However, the chemical composition of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and other foams places the firefighters who use them at considerable risk of developing cancer or having children with significant birth defects. These include impaired growth, difficulty conceiving, and damaged immune systems. Thus, while the structure may be saved, the firefighter who saved it and their family members lose.

These dangers are well-documented and in 2018 a federal inquiry determined that PFAS pose an even greater risk to the health and safety of firefighters than had been previously acknowledged. The inquiry resulted in a significant revision by the EPA regarding the recommendations for the maximum safe level of exposure to PFAS and PFOS. As of 2018, all lawsuits related to toxic exposures caused by firefighting foam were centralized in South Carolina.

Presumed Workplace Exposure

Under Nevada law, firefighters who file claims for toxic workplace exposures do not have to prove the date, place, and circumstances of the exposure. State statutes presume that firefighters filing these claims acquired the injury as a result of their work-related duties. Thus, there is no need to present evidence of specific events where the exposure may have occurred to be eligible to pursue a claim or receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Risk to the General Public

PFAS chemicals are more prevalent than most people realize. They are found in food products, including meat, seafood, cocoa, and many other consumer products. While the EPA and CDC claim safe levels exist, these chemicals settle deep within the body. Often, they are found in significant concentrations within the blood, kidneys, and liver. It’s estimated that upwards of 98% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAs in their blood. As with firefighters, these exposures are known to cause liver damage, thyroid problems, difficulty conceiving, obesity, cancer, and hormone suppression.