Perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) Forever Chemical Lawsuits
Matthews & Associates Law Firm is investigating cases for people who developed cancer after being exposed to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals.
Forever Chemicals contaminate the World
PFAS have long been used in manufacturing and industrial production. They have also been found in public and private water supplies all across the USA. Remediation for these forever chemicals is difficult and costly. Our firm may work with public and private entities to recover costs for removing and remediating PFAS in the environment. We may also represent people, such as firefighters, who have been diagnosed with cancer following heavy PFAS exposure.
PFAS bring Considerable Profits at the expense of Human Health
DuPont and 3M have made PFAS a major source of revenue for decades, bringing annual revenue of some $1 billion. PFAS bring additional profits in a secondary market, in emulsifiers for lubricants, paints, polishes, and spray-on coatings. These secondary market sales bring PFAS’ producers $100 million more per year.
What are PFAS?
PFAS – Perfluoroalkyl substances are a critical element in water and stain repellents for textiles such as carpets, fabrics, and furniture upholstery.
These chemicals are also used in the manufacture of:
- flame retardants and extinguishing foams
- food packaging
- ink (such as in store receipts)
- non-stick cookware coatings
- hydraulic fluids for auto and aerospace industries
- medical devices
- color copier and printer components
- metal plating (such as chrome)
PFAS are, sadly, ubiquitous in our world. They have invaded our bodies and our environment for decades. The Environmental Working Group published a report in June 2017 that found PFAS contamination in the water supplies of 27 states, affecting some 15 million Americans. PFAS have been found in virtually all human, domestic animal, and wildlife blood. These chemicals were listed in 2009 as “persistent organic pollutants” – or POPs – under the Stockholm Convention. That international treaty was ratified in 2004 to stop the manufacture and use of non-biodegradable substances such as PFAS.
PFAS don’t succumb to natural degradation. Natural processes – such as decay, sun, weather exposure – don’t break them down. They remain forever after being released in the world. Scientific studies show the half-life of PFAS (the time in which half the amount of a substance degrades) to be 10,000 years. In water supplies, that half-life is more than a million years.
Human Health Consequences
PFAS’ impact on human and animal health can result from exposure levels as low as 1 part per trillion. PFAS are a recognized human carcinogen. Exposure can cause cancer and numerous other diseases. Our firm is currently investigating cases for people exposed to PFAS who developed:
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Ulcerative Colitis
PFAS in the Water Supply
PFAS contaminate the water supply mostly through industrial waste discharge. Rivers and streams can receive toxic contamination, but PFAS’ waste products also end up on the ground. Rain can cause these toxic materials to bleed into underground aquifers. Sadly, the problem doesn’t end there. Since PFAS never biodegrade, they accumulate as they find their way into the food chain.
PFAS in Fire Supressant Foams
PFAS are often used in fire suppressant foams, so one probable source is fire training venues and properties which have seen large fires. Heavy-duty lubricants and hydraulic fluids often contain PFAS; therefore, water sources near military bases and industrial sites are often contaminated with them. A former US Air Force base in Michigan had water wells that contained 10,000 times the lifetime health advisory set by the EPA. The state’s Lt. Governor Brian Calley declared a state of emergency in July 2018 after investigators found dangerous PFAS levels in two Kalamazoo water supplies.
A peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environmental Research in August 2018 found some 6 million Americans exposed to water contaminated with PFAS exceeding EPA advisory levels. The Environmental Working Group produced a helpful interactive map showing high levels of PFAS contamination in cities and towns’ water supplies along the Atlantic seaboard, the California Coast, and south Puget Sound. Not surprisingly, most of these areas are home to heavy industrial concerns.
Removing PFAS from water supplies is labor-intensive, time consuming, expensive. Granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration can remove 99.9% of PFOA and PFOS. However, shorter chain PFASs, such as GenX, require more expensive and intensive filtration methods, such as ion exchange and reverse osmosis. It costs more than $1 million to simply install the necessary equipment and run the filtration process. Annual ongoing expenses run into hundreds of thousands of dollars that heavily burdens contaminated communities.
The state of Minnesota sues PFAS Polluters, wins
In February 2018, the State of Minnesota setted with 3M, maker of water-repellent Scotchgard. That settlement resolved litigation begun in 2010 after state health authorities discovered an unusual number of premature births and cases of cancer in the Minneapolis area. State Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that she would seek punitive damages that would have cost the defendant $5 billion. Just prior to the case’s going to trial, 3M settled it for $850 million, without admitting any wrongdoing. Ms. Swanson said the settlement funds will be used for PFAS removal.