Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) are a type of fire suppressant used in high-risk industrial settings to prevent the spread of fires and their associated hazards. While these specialized foams are highly effective at extinguishing fires, they can also pose a significant risk to the operators who use them and the general public.
AFFF is not a danger in and of itself; rather, the danger lies in its parts. When the chemicals that makeup AFFF – specifically fluorotelomer alcohol, ammonium perfluorooctanoate, and perfluorooctyl phosphate – combine with water, they become carcinogens known as PFAS.
These carcinogens have been proven to cause human cancer when introduced in large enough doses. While it’s not possible to eliminate this risk, there are several ways you can reduce your exposure to these carcinogens if you work with or around AFFF foam frequently. If you get cancer while working in an AFFF-exposed environment, you should visit an AFFF cancer lawyer near you, so you can file a lawsuit and get compensated.
Ensure Proper Fit and Maintenance of Protective Equipment:
Proper fit and maintenance of your protective equipment (such as respirators and gloves) are crucial to reducing your risk of exposure to carcinogens in AFFF. For example, if your respirator does not fit properly, it will not provide adequate protection. The same goes for your gloves – you should replace them as soon as they become worn or torn.
Change Your Showering Habits:
The biggest risk associated with AFFF is the act of showering. When the chemicals in AFFF mix with water, they enter your body through your skin and respiratory system. The best way to reduce this risk is to change your showering habits. While wearing protective gear is recommended during a firefighting operation, it is not practical to wear this gear in the shower.
For this reason, you should reduce your time showering after an operation involving AFFF as much as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting your shower time to no longer than 15 minutes after exposure to AFFF. Of course, shorter showers are even better, but you should try to avoid long showers altogether if possible.
Use Plenty of Ventilation When Working with AFFF:
It would help if you used plenty of ventilation whenever possible when working with AFFF-containing solutions. The CDC recommends using exhaust fans and opening windows or doors to increase airflow in the area where you’re working. This will reduce the amount of fluorotelomer alcohol in the air, reducing the number of carcinogens you’re exposed to.
Change Out Equipment Frequently:
Equipment is only helpful if it’s in good condition. It would help if you changed your equipment as soon as it became ripped or torn. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Many industrial sectors have incredibly tight budgets that prevent them from purchasing new equipment when the old stuff is still technically functional. However, when it comes to AFFF, you should never put off replacing your equipment.
Cancer is a terrible disease that affects many people around the world. While it’s not possible to eliminate the risk of contracting cancer, there are several things you can do to reduce your exposure to carcinogens.