Impact of Firefighting Aqueous Film-Forming Foams on Human Cell Proliferation and Cellular Mortality

By Alexia L. Kafkoutsou, Yu-Ping Yang, Elnaz Zeynaloo, Sapna K. Deo, Natasha Schaefer Solle, Erin N. Kobetz, Sylvia Daunert, and Alberto J. Caban-Martinez
J. Occup. Environ
March 15, 2022
DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002527


Evaluate the toxic effects of Aqueous Film-Forming Foams used by firefighters for Class B fire suppression in human-derived kidney cells (HEK-293).


Three widely used AFFFs were collected from fire departments and were added to HEK-293 cells in various concentrations. Seventy-two hours post treatment, cellular proliferation and toxicity were examined using commercially available kits.


All AFFFs evaluated induced cellular toxicity and significantly decreased cell proliferation, even when cells were treated with concentrations 10-fold lower than the working concentration used for fire suppression.


Despite the reduced usage of PFAS-containing AFFFs in the firefighter work environment, the evaluated AFFFs demonstrated significantly altered cellular proliferation, while also inducing toxicity, indicating the presence of toxic compounds. Both stronger implementation of PFAS-containing AFFFs restrictions and robust evaluation of fluorine-free and next-generation AFFFs are warranted.


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