The Global Market of Firefighting Foam and the Health Risks of AFFF

The Global Market of Firefighting Foam and the Health Risks of AFFF

Fire-related accidents have become a pressing concern in various industries, as they pose significant risks to life, property, and the environment. The increasing frequency of these incidents has sparked a demand for effective fire prevention and firefighting measures.

Industries such as oil and gas, marine, mining, chemical processing, transportation, pharmaceuticals, airports, and refineries have all experienced the devastating consequences of fires.

To address this critical issue, extensive efforts are being made to develop innovative strategies and technologies. They are made with the intent to effectively prevent, contain, and extinguish fires, safeguarding both human lives and valuable assets.

This brings to us the manufacturing of firefighting foams. These are chemical suppressants that control and prevent fires. However, they pose high health risks to their users.

This article looks at various elements related to fire-fighting scenarios, the market, the injuries, and the statistics.

The Global Market of Firefighting Foam

On the one hand, where there is an increase in cases of fire-related accidents, the market to control such mishaps is also being broadened. Fire-fighting foams are suppressants used to prevent fire. Generally classified into classes (A, B, C), these foams vary in their use.

According to a report by Spherical Insights, the market size of global firefighting foam was estimated at  $5.60 billion in 2022. It is anticipated to reach $7.10 billion by 2032.

The highest share of the market is covered by the aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), class B, as it is very versatile and used in many industries. It is extremely effective at extinguishing flames involving flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel, and jet fuel.

Firefighting foam’s capacity to form a thin coating on the liquid surface reduces the generation of flammable vapors, resulting in faster and more effective fire suppression. It is frequently used by military personnel and in aircraft operations.

However, AFFF can cause several dangerous diseases in human bodies and create a negative environmental impact. 

Dangers of Firefighting Foam

The use of AFFF is highly concerning as it contains PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). These chemicals are highly toxic as they do not break down easily. It possesses an increased risk of developing cancer in the human body and may cause reproductive problems.

In 2022, looking at the growing dangers of the product, the US Department of Defense proposed a plan for phasing out its usage and coming up with alternatives and replacements to AFFF. Additionally, many lawsuits have been filed against AFFF to compensate for the damage caused.

According to TorHoerman Law, exposure to AFFF may end up causing Bladder cancer, Breast cancer, Testicular cancer, Liver cancer, etc. People living near aviation or military facilities are at a high risk of getting exposed to firefighting foam.

The AFFF Lawsuit

Plaintiffs can file an AFFF firefighting foam cancer lawsuit against manufacturers of AFFF like 3M, DuPont, and several other companies. It covers medical expenses, emotional distress, permanent disability, etc. Other compensations are also being offered depending on the individual case.

In October 2023, 111 additional instances were added to the class action complaint. While many cases were handled through a settlement earlier this year, the additional cases raise the total to more than 6,000.

The settlement amount varies from case to case, but average compensation ranges between $40,000-$3,00,000. However, it is predicted that the top-tier settlement payouts will range from $200,000 to $500,000, the middle tier could receive $150,000 to $300,000 and lowest could receive $20,000 to $75,000.

The National Fire Protection Association conducted research based in the U.S. in 2023 where:

  • A fire brigade responds to a fire every 21 seconds
  • Every 88 seconds, one fire is reported in a residential structure
  • Every 53 minutes, there is one home fire-related injury
  • Every 3 hours and 14 minutes, one person dies from a residential fire

Looking at such statistics and the increase in fire-related accidents, the state is working towards producing new products. These foams are intended to replace the older ones containing forever chemicals that are proven deadly.

Interestingly, progress has been made and soybean-based firefighting foam has now been introduced in the market. Not only has this saved people from exposure to toxic chemicals, but it also opened new opportunities for the farmers.

The United Soybean Board and other state soybean promotional groups provided the first funding for foam development. Last year, the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board increased its support for further development.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What role does proper building design play in fire safety?

Proper building design is crucial for fire safety. It includes features such as fire-resistant materials, well-placed fire exits, clear evacuation routes, properly installed fire alarm systems, adequate ventilation, and compartmentalization to prevent the spread of fire. These design elements significantly contribute to minimizing fire-related accidents and facilitating safe evacuation.                                                 

How important is fire safety training for employees?

Fire safety training is crucial for employees to understand the potential fire hazards in their workplace, learn how to use fire extinguishers correctly, recognize evacuation procedures, and respond quickly and calmly in case of a fire. It helps minimize panic, ensures effective evacuation, and reduces the risks associated with fire-related accidents.

What are some common mistakes to avoid during a fire emergency?

During a fire emergency, it is essential to avoid using elevators, blocking emergency exits, underestimating the severity of the situation, failing to alert others, re-entering the building without authorization, and attempting to fight the fire without adequate training or appropriate equipment. These actions can worsen the situation and endanger lives.                 

Fire-related accidents pose significant risks to individuals, properties, and communities. It is crucial to prioritize fire safety measures, such as implementing and practicing fire prevention strategies, maintaining functional fire alarm systems, and promoting fire education and awareness.

Remember, fire safety is everyone’s responsibility, and together, we can work towards minimizing the devastating effects of fire-related incidents.

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