Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Mike Stag, Esq.
The PFAS Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
See If You Qualify

Millions of people throughout the United States have thyroid disease. While thyroid disease has a number of causes, individuals who have been exposed to toxic substances may be at an increased risk for developing the condition.

It is well-documented that over 700 military bases across the globe are being investigated for PFAS contamination. PFAS chemicals are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances that are considered hazardous to humans, animals, and the environment.

Table of Contents:

Thyroid Disease Among Military Personnel Exposed to PFAS

A 2018 study found that there were over 40,000 cases of thyroid disorders diagnosed in active military service members over a 10-year period. The most common thyroid disorder among military personnel was hypothyroidism, which was higher among non-Hispanic white service members. Rates of thyroid disorders were also higher among Air Force personnel compared with other service members.

Previous research indicated there was a “significantly higher” incidence of thyroid cancer among white women, black women, and black men in the military compared with the general population. If you served in the military and were subsequently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or another thyroid disease, you should speak with an experienced attorney about your legal rights.

PFAS Exposure and Thyroid Dysfunction

PFAS or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances are forever chemicals. PFAS are named forever chemicals since they do not easily break down in the environment. Since at least the 1970s, the military has used products containing PFAS or has released PFAS contaminants into the groundwater at installations around the world.

One of the most commonly used products by the military that is known to contain PFAS is aqueous film-forming form (AFFF). The fire-fighting foam was used for decades in civilian and military settings. Hundreds of military installations have been identified as having PFAS-contaminated groundwater, putting service members and their families at a high risk of developing certain diseases and adverse health conditions.

PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of conditions, including a higher risk of developing certain kinds of cancer and thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Grave’s disease.

Symptoms of Thyroid Disease in Military Veterans

Early signs and symptoms of thyroid disease may be easily dismissed as common conditions. However, any changes in your health should be evaluated by a medical professional. Symptoms of thyroid disease may differ significantly depending on whether you suffer from hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Signs and symptoms of thyroid disease include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Enlarged thyroid or swelling in the neck
  • Tremors
  • Changes in your menstrual cycles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heat or cold sensitivity
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Vision problems
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble with your memory
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • infertility

PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of adverse health conditions. It is also believed to disrupt the thyroid system. If you were diagnosed with thyroid disease after serving in the military, you might be eligible to take legal action. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney to determine the best path forward.

Infographic; Military Water contamination Signs of Thyroid Disease; lists symptoms of thyroid disease and other illnesses related to military water contamination

If you have been diagnosed with a military-related thyroid disorder, you may have a valid legal claim. However, in order to pursue a legal claim, you need to seek medical attention. Failure to seek medical attention could cause your condition to get worse. You should also speak to an attorney as soon as possible and provide both your military and medical records.

Steps for military personnel and veterans diagnosed with thyroid disease due to PFAS exposure:

  • Identify thyroid disorder symptoms.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Obtain a documented diagnosis.
  • Secure military and medical records.
  • Speak to a PFAS exposure attorney about your legal options.

It is important to take action as soon as possible. You may only have a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages. Regular health monitoring can help ensure a prompt diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan for thyroid-related conditions.

PFAS Prevention and Monitoring on Military Bases

The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently identifying and sampling water on military installations around the world to determine levels of PFAS contamination. Research shows that over 700 military sites have either suspected or confirmed contamination of PFAS contamination. The DoD is now working to clean these sites.

Additionally, the DoD has committed to the restricted use of AFFF and is required by the National Defense Authorization Act to stop using PFAS-based firefighting foams by October 1, 2024.

Legislation to Prevent PFAS Contamination on Military Installations

There have been several legislative efforts targeted at preventing PFAS contamination at military installations across the country. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 required that the Department of Defense stop purchasing firefighting foam containing more than 1 part per billion PFAS by October 1, 2023. The Act further placed a prohibition on the use of fluorinated aqueous film-forming form by October 1, 2024.

Contact a PFAS Cancer Lawyer

If you were diagnosed with a thyroid disorder after serving in the military, contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our legal team has had a successful track record handling military PFAS and water contamination cases. We strongly encourage current and former service members to reach out for a case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does exposure to PFAS on military bases affect thyroid function?
PFAS are believed to be endocrine disruptors. This means that they may interfere with the thyroid hormone system. Prolonged PFAS exposure has been linked to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
What PFAS chemicals are most commonly linked to thyroid disease in the military?
Several PFAS chemicals have been linked to thyroid disease, including Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).
What types of thyroid diseases are most commonly linked to PFAS exposure?
Several thyroid diseases have been linked to PFAS exposure, including Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism.
How long does PFAS exposure on military bases take to affect thyroid health?
It can take only a few months for PFAS exposure at a military base to affect your thyroid health. However, in order to file a legal claim, you generally must have lived at a base with known PFAS contamination for one cumulative year or longer.
How can veterans prove that their thyroid disease is linked to PFAS exposure during military service?
The best way to prove that your thyroid disease was linked to PFAS exposure during your military service is by retaining an attorney. An attorney can review your military and medical records to determine if you have a valid legal claim.
What steps should be taken if a service member suspects they have a thyroid disorder?
If you believe that you have a thyroid disorder related to your military service, you need to seek treatment immediately. Once you are able, you should consult with an attorney.
Are there military bases known for higher risks of thyroid disease due to PFAS contamination?
While over 700 military installations have known or suspected PFAS contamination, some have already been determined to have high levels of PFAS contamination. You should contact an attorney to determine if the military site where you were stationed is known for having a high risk of thyroid disease related to PFAS exposure.
Are family members of military personnel also at risk for thyroid disorders due to PFAS?
Family members of military personnel are also at risk for thyroid disorders due to PFAS contamination. In many cases, exposure came from the groundwater at the military installation, meaning anyone who was stationed there may have been put at risk for developing a thyroid disorder.