VA Claims for Exposure to AFFF (2024)

Learn about VA claims for exposure to AFFF, including the claims process, related lawsuits, and health risks associated with AFFF's toxic chemicals.

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


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VA Claims for Exposure to AFFF (2024)

Aqueous film-forming foam, commonly called AFFF, has been widely used by firefighters and other emergency response service personnel. AFFF is very effective at putting out fires that involve flammable liquids like jet fuel. Unfortunately, it has also been found to contain toxic chemicals that can pose severe health risks.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has acknowledged that exposure to chemicals in AFFF can lead to a variety of health problems. In this article, we’ll uncover what compensation is available for veterans and how to navigate the claims process.

What is AFFF?

AFFF is a firefighting foam that has been used since it was developed by the Navy in the 1960s. It is a fire suppressant that is efficient for extinguishing flammable liquid fires that are resistant to extinguishment by water. AFFF creates a dense foam blanket that suppresses fires and prevents them from reigniting.

Part of what makes AFFF effective for firefighting is its inclusion of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These are synthetic chemicals resistant to heat, water, and oil. Studies have found these same chemical traits contribute to persistence in the environment and a greater potential for human health risks.

PFAS are often called "forever chemicals" because they do not break down easily and can accumulate in the environment and the human body over time. As a result, AFFF exposure symptoms can take years to become visible.

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VA Compensation for Veteran Firefighters

PFAS have been recognized by the VA as linked to serious health conditions. These conditions include certain cancers, thyroid disease, fertility issues, and immune system disorders. Veterans who have been exposed to AFFF during their services are asked to report any health problems to the VA. Those most likely to have been exposed to AFFF are military firefighters.

It is possible to seek disability compensation through the VA for health problems related to chemical exposure during military service. In order to do this, it is necessary to file a claim for VA benefits. This process will require evidence that your illness is related to your military service, and specifically related to your exposure to AFFF.

If your claim is successful, the VA offers disability compensation, health care, and other benefits. However, navigating VA benefits claims can be complicated and stressful. Fill out the form on this page to get help from a knowledgeable lawyer near you today.

VA Claim Process for AFFF Exposure Claims

To be eligible for VA compensation due to AFFF exposure, you must first file a claim and prove that you meet certain criteria. In general, you’ll need to show that you have an existing medical condition linked to AFFF exposure. You’ll also need to show that your exposure occurred during your military service. The VA claims process follows these steps:

  • Submit a claim application. This can be completed online or by mailing a paper application to a VA office. Your application will need to include evidence of your exposure and medical condition.
  • VA initial review and evidence gathering. The VA will conduct an initial review and begin to gather additional relevant documentation for your claim. They may request additional records from you during this time.
  • VA claim review. The VA will assign a claims examiner to review your claim and ensure they have all information necessary to make a decision. This process can be lengthy, and often exceeds 120 days.
  • VA decision. Once the claim review is complete, the VA will notify you as to whether they have approved or denied your claim. If necessary data was missing, they may request more information from you before making a decision.
  • Appeal (for denied claims). If your claim has been denied, you still have a chance to appeal that decision through the decision review process. Consider hiring a lawyer to assist you with an appeal to avoid mistakes that could sink your claim. Fill out the form on this page for a free case evaluation.

AFFF Exposure Lawsuits

In addition to VA claims, many victims of AFFF exposure have chosen to file AFFF lawsuits against the companies that manufactured and sold AFFF to the military. These manufacturers include:

  • 3M Company
  • Chemguard
  • Tyco (brand name Ansul)
  • DuPont
  • National Foam

According to recent AFFF case updates, over 8,000 cases are active against these manufacturers.

Hiring a knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate your VA benefits claim and identify whether you qualify for compensation through an AFFF exposure lawsuit. You may be eligible to initiate an individual lawsuit or join an existing class action lawsuit. Fill out the form on this page to get help with your case today.

Victoria Pearce, Esq.'s profile picture

Victoria Pearce, Esq.


Victoria is a legal and HR content writer with a background as a practicing attorney in California and Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you were exposed to toxic chemicals like AFFF during your military service, you can be rated up to 100% disabled by the VA. The percentage assigned will depend on the severity of your symptoms and its effect on your life. VA compensation charts lay out monthly benefits that can reach thousands of dollars each month.

  • AFFF exposure can cause a wide variety of cancers, including: bladder, breast, colorectal, liver, testicular, and prostate cancer. AFFF exposure has also been linked to mesothelioma and leukemia cancers.

  • In 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first federal rule limiting the amount of the toxic chemicals found in AFFF that can be allowed in drinking water. The EPA limit of PFAS is four parts per trillion. Some states, including Alaska, also treat AFFF as hazardous and require containment and cleanup after some discharges.

  • The VA does not routinely test veterans unless you request a screening. Any veteran enrolled in VA health care is able to request a toxic exposure screening. The screening can be scheduled online or by calling your local VA medical center.

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