PFAS are known to be toxic and linked to a variety of cancers, like testicular and prostate cancer in men and ovarian cancer in women. Because these types of chemicals can remain in the human body for a long time and cause serious and deadly health conditions, the Environmental Protection Agency has created public information on what cancers are linked to PFAS.
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PFAS Contamination in Illinois
For many years, the health effects of PFAS have been a concern for Americans living in every state, including Illinois. The number of states that are confirmed to be contaminated with highly toxic fluorinated compounds, known as PFAS, continues to grow each year. According to research data, PFAS contamination has been found in 3,186 locations in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and two territories. As a result of these findings, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created an interactive map that shows the contamination levels in each state. The map reveals 431 sites with detectable levels of PFAS found in public water systems.
Potential Harmful Effects of PFAS Chemicals
PFAS exposure is a major health concern because the chemicals are toxic and known to cause serious illness and disease in humans. PFAS chemicals are referred to as “toxic forever chemicals” because they stay in the human body for long periods, sometimes for several decades. According to the EPA, there are four main ways that humans are exposed to PFAS chemicals: 1- Drinking water, 2- Food, 3- Consumer products, and 4- In the workplace. Exposure through any of the sources can result in serious health problems, including:
- Developmental problems in children
- Reproductive problems in females
- Hyper or hypothyroidism
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Immune systems disorders
- Liver and kidney problems
In addition to the above health problems, which can be long-lasting and severe, PFAS have also been linked to several types of cancers that are known to result in severe injuries, permanent disabilities, and even death. Knowing what cancers are linked to PFAS may save your life.
PFAS Links to Cancer in Illinois
According to the American Cancer Society, the PFAS chemical compound PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) increases the risk of certain types of cancers in humans, both males and females. Known cancers linked to PFAS chemicals include:
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Ovarian cancer
The EPA confirms that PFAS have been found in Illinois on military sites and in public drinking water systems, both below and above the safe limit for human consumption. The Environmental Working Group, a national organization dedicated to health wellness and safety, addresses many public health concerns, including the effects of PFAS chemicals shown on the EWG interactive map.
Cancers Associated With PFAS Exposure
It’s important to know what cancers are linked to PFAS exposure because many can be difficult to treat and can be fatal if they aren’t caught in time. Many of these cancers result in class action lawsuits against the responsible party. If you have health concerns due to PFAS exposure, you can research information on how to know if you’re eligible for a class action lawsuit payment. A class action lawsuit is filed by one or more injured parties on behalf of a large group of people. If the lawsuit is successful, the payout is divided up and each class member receives a percentage of the total payout. Common class action lawsuits filed for PFAS damages include the following conditions.
Following skin cancer, breast cancer and endometrial cancers are the most common cancers diagnosed in women. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both women and men, but is far more common in women. Risk factors can be both genetic and environmental (caused by toxic chemicals, radiation, and lifestyle). When breast cancer is detected early and still in the localized stage, patients are given a 5-year relative survival rate of 99%. If breast cancer progresses to Stage 4, it is no longer curable, but it can be managed to extend life for several years. Breast cancer symptoms include: a lump in the breast, changes in breast appearance, size, or shape, dimpling skin over the breast, and crusting or peeling skin around the nipple.
Prostate cancer is only found in males. Many prostate cancers grow slowly and are confined to the prostate gland, where they may not cause serious harm. However, some types of prostate cancer are much more aggressive and can spread quickly to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages, but more advanced stages cause detectable symptoms, including blood in the urine and seamen, decreased urine stream or problems urinating, erectile dysfunction, bone pain, and unexplained weight loss.
Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys, two bean-shaped organs located behind the abdominal organs, with one kidney on each side of the spine. In adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, but other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. When kidney cancer occurs in young children, the most common type of cancer is known as Wilms’ tumor. It’s not clear what causes most kidney cancers, but most types develop when kidney cells change and develop mutations in their DNA. Symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and pain in the back or side that doesn’t go away.
Testicular cancer is a growth of cells that starts in the testicles, so it’s only found in males, usually between the ages of 15 and 45. It is not a common type of cancer, but cancer cells can grow quickly and often spread to other body parts, however, it is highly treatable. Since PFAS exposure is common in many work environments, men who work in industrial and manufacturing plants should be aware of possible exposure and what cancers are linked to PFAS. Symptoms of testicular cancer include a lump or swelling in either testicle, dull aching in the groin or lower belly, swelling or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, breast enlargement or tenderness, and back pain.
Regulations Related to PFAS in Illinois
On December 7, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) filed proposed amendments to Illinois’ groundwater quality standards with the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Although federal regulation of PFAS chemicals in groundwater is still pending, Illinois follows several other states that are choosing to regulate PFAS exposure and contamination. In Illinois, PFAS chemicals are frequently found in drinking water, food products, consumer products, fire-fighting foams, and industrial manufacturing plants.
PFAS Lawsuits in Illinois
In Illinois, PFAS lawsuits are often class actions filed by a class action lawyer who files the lawsuit on behalf of multiple victims. Class action lawsuits commonly involve environmental hazards and toxic exposure cases that may represent hundreds or even thousands of injury victims.
In class action lawsuits where victims are exposed to dangerous or toxic chemicals, damages usually include economic damages to cover tangible losses, as well as punitive damages awarded to punish the guilty party for negligent or egregious actions. In some cases where toxic exposure results in severe injuries, permanent disabilities, or death, victims may be awarded damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and wrongful death.
Who Can File a PFAS Lawsuit?
If you suffered harm due to PFAS exposure, you can file a class action lawsuit to recover damages. Although most class actions include multiple parties, a class action can be filed on behalf of only 1 to 4 claimants. Before you decide to file, you should find an Illinois class action lawyer who can represent you, discuss what cancers are linked to PFAS exposure, and ask what to expect in a class action lawsuit. The more you know upfront, the better chances you have of a successful outcome where you receive compensation for your injuries.
In Illinois, class action lawsuits start with a formal complaint that must be filed in a state court or a federal court. One or more defendants must be named on behalf of other defendants in the class who have suffered similar injuries. Once the claim is filed, class certification must be reached by providing certain information. If the court certifies the class lawsuit, the case will continue through the litigation process with your class action lawyer, who will oversee the case. While some class action lawsuits go to court, many are settled out of court, but either way you can expect your case to take at least 3 months or longer before you receive any compensation.