A Call to Action for Strengthening AFFF Regulation through Legal Means

For a very long time, aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been praised as an essential instrument for fighting flammable liquid fires. Unfortunately, the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS) in it has caused serious environmental and health problems due to its extensive use.

Despite mounting evidence linking AFFF to water contamination and adverse health effects, regulatory measures have been slow to address these issues adequately. As communities grapple with the aftermath of AFFF pollution, there is an urgent need for stronger regulation to prevent further harm.

In this article, we’ll discuss the critical role of legal avenues in strengthening AFFF regulation. We’ll advocate for proactive measures to mitigate its adverse effects on both human health and the environment.

Lawsuits for Holding Manufacturers Accountable

The AFFF lawsuit has emerged as a pivotal tool in holding manufacturers accountable for the environmental and health consequences of their products. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits state that AFFF manufacturers were aware of the potential risks associated with PFAS chemicals.

However, they failed to adequately warn consumers or implement safer alternatives. According to TruLaw, the legal proceedings have unearthed internal documents revealing knowledge within the industry about the persistence and toxicity of PFAS compounds.

As a result, manufacturers have faced increasing scrutiny and financial penalties, with some settlements reaching millions of dollars. As per a Smart Water Magazine update from April 2024, Tyco Fire Products agreed to a $750 million settlement in response to AFFF litigation.

These lawsuits aim to both compensate affected communities and push manufacturers to prioritize public safety and environmental stewardship in their practices.

Strengthening Federal Oversight

The current regulatory framework for AFFF is characterized by overlapping jurisdiction and fragmented oversight, leading to regulatory gaps and inconsistencies in enforcement. According to the Environmental Working Group, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are the agencies involved in regulating AFFF.

However, their regulatory authority is often limited to specific aspects of AFFF management, resulting in a piecemeal approach to regulation. This decentralized approach has hindered the development of comprehensive standards for AFFF composition, storage, and disposal.

This leaves loopholes that may compromise public health and environmental integrity. Closing these regulatory gaps requires concerted efforts to streamline oversight and establish cohesive regulatory frameworks that prioritize precautionary measures and risk mitigation strategies.

Empowering State and Local Initiatives

States and localities have taken proactive steps to address AFFF contamination in the absence of robust federal action. For example, several states have enacted legislation banning the use of AFFF in firefighter training exercises or requiring the disclosure of PFAS-containing products.

As per JD Supra, the Washington Department of Ecology is currently analyzing the potential impacts of an AFFF disposal program. It’s the first state-led Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analysis on this matter, assessing environmental and public health effects, including new technologies.


Additionally, local governments have implemented ordinances regulating the discharge of AFFF into water bodies and mandating remediation of contaminated sites. These grassroots initiatives serve as catalysts for change, raising awareness about AFFF-related risks and pressuring policymakers to take decisive action.

However, the effectiveness of state and local regulations is contingent on collaboration with federal agencies and resource allocation to support implementation and enforcement efforts.

Enhancing Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanisms

Effective regulation of AFFF contamination relies on robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to detect violations and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Current monitoring protocols often lack sensitivity and specificity, leading to underestimation of PFAS contamination levels in water sources and ecosystems.

To address this challenge, regulatory agencies must invest in advanced analytical technologies capable of detecting low concentrations of PFAS compounds in environmental samples. Furthermore, stringent enforcement measures, including penalties for non-compliance and remediation requirements for contaminated sites, are essential to hold polluters accountable.

Promoting Industry Accountability and Innovation

Industry stakeholders play a crucial role in driving responsible practices and innovation in AFFF management. Some manufacturers have proactively phased out PFAS-containing formulations and invested in research and development of fluorine-free alternatives.


Industry associations can further incentivize responsible practices by establishing voluntary standards and certification programs that reward companies for adopting sustainable and safer firefighting technologies. Collaboration between industry, government, and research institutions is essential to accelerate the development and adoption of alternative firefighting foams and mitigation strategies.

Fostering a culture of accountability and innovation can mitigate the environmental and health risks associated with AFFF contamination. This ensures effective fire suppression capabilities for emergency responders.


Is Afff Foam Harmful?

Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are potentially harmful chemicals linked to health and environmental concerns. Prolonged exposure or improper disposal of AFFF can pose risks to human health and ecosystems.

Who Can File An Afff Lawsuit?

Individuals, communities, or entities affected by the harmful effects of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) may file lawsuits. This includes individuals who have suffered health issues, property damage, or environmental harm due to exposure to AFFF chemicals.

Is Afff Still Used?

AFFF is still used in certain applications, particularly in firefighting situations where its effectiveness in suppressing flammable liquid fires is valued. However, there are growing efforts to find alternative firefighting foams due to concerns over its environmental and health impacts.

In conclusion, the urgent need for stronger regulation of AFFF is evident from mounting evidence of its environmental and health risks. Legal options, such as lawsuits and federal oversight, are crucial in holding manufacturers accountable and closing regulatory gaps.

State and local initiatives complement these efforts, while robust monitoring and industry innovation promise safer alternatives. By collectively addressing these challenges, we can ensure a safer, more sustainable future for all, safeguarding both public health and environmental integrity.