Individuals, cities and states across the U.S. are filing PFAS chemical contamination lawsuits against 3M, Dupont and several other chemical manufacturers, alleging chemical pollution in soil, groundwater and drinking water. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. And PFAS are all-pervasive: they are found in fish, animals, and humans. Because PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can accumulate in human bodies over time, they are also called the “forever chemical” and “the new asbestos”.
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There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, according to the FDA. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat, and this is why PFAS have been used in a variety of applications since the 1940s. They were used in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. The FDA authorized certain PFAS for limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment.
PFAS Studies and Regulations
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both conducted studies and concluded that these chemicals are highly toxic and hazardous to the environment and human health. According to the CDC , PFAS increases the likelihood that communities around PFAS manufacturing, or facilities using PFAS containing chemicals, are likely to be adversely impacted. A 2007 study by the CDC estimated that PFAS chemicals could be detected in the blood of 98 percent of the US population.
The CDC, The National Center for Environmental and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have all labeled human exposure to PFAS as a public health concern.
The Environmental Working Group reports that more than 1,500 drinking water systems serving nearly 110 million Americans may be contaminated with the chemicals. According to CNN, the Department of Defense has identified at least 400 active or closed military installations or bases with potential PFOS or PFOA and the Pentagon has identified at least 36 military installations where drinking water levels of PFOS and PFOA exceeded the EPA’s health advisory.
PFAS Serious Health Conditions
Some of these PFAS have been more widely used and studied than others. According to the FDA, science surrounding potential health effects of PFAS is “developing” but evidence suggests it may cause serious health conditions.
Studies in humans exposed to PFAS have shown that these chemicals can:
- Increase cancer risks, especially testicular and kidney cancers
- Increase cholesterol
- Affect immune system functions
- Disrupt the body’s natural hormonal levels
- Decrease fertility
- Cause liver damage
- Cause thyroid disease
- Affect infants and children’s growth, learning abilities, and behavior
A recent class action lawsuit is potentially open to any U.S. individuals who claim to have injuries from PFAS exposure and if the chemical has been detected in their blood. One proposed class action filed in Ohio federal court could include every person in the U.S. because PFAS is believed to be present in most everyone. And a federal court in South Carolina is overseeing federal multidistrict litigation involving hundreds of plaintiffs who also claim they have been exposed to PFAS.
PFAS Firefighters Class Action Lawsuit
Three firefighters from New York State in May 2020 filed a class action lawsuit
on behalf of all firefighters in the U.S. against 28 companies involved in varying degrees with the manufacture and sale of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). Thomas J. Gentile, Tommy McGarry, and Charles O’Keefe filed suit in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Gentile developed testicular cancer; McGarry suffers from chronic fatigue, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
In addition to individual lawsuits, many states and municipal governments have filed environmental lawsuits against the chemical manufacturers, accusing them of polluting water and soil, fish and animals, and causing serious health issues in human beings. As well, the chemical manufacturers are accused of concealing and misleading the public by promoting slightly altered chemical varieties as safe alternatives, and 3M “knowingly and willfully” disposed of those chemicals that allowed them to enter the water supply.
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Published on Sep-15-20