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Nationwide Class-Action Lawsuit Targets DuPont, Chemours, 3M, and other Makers of PFAS Chemicals

Published: October 6, 2018
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Source: The Intercept

A CLASS ACTION lawsuit against 3MDuPont, and Chemours was filed this week on behalf of everyone in the United States who has been exposed to PFAS chemicals. The suit was brought by Kevin Hardwick, an Ohio firefighter, but “seeks relief on behalf of a nationwide class of everyone in the United States who has a detectable level of PFAS chemicals in their blood.” Hardwick is represented by attorney Robert Bilott, who successfully sued DuPont on behalf of people in West Virginia and Ohio who had been exposed to PFOA from a plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In addition to 3M, DuPont, and its spinoff, Chemours, the suit names eight other companies that produce the toxic chemicals, which are used to make firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, and many other products. While much of the litigation around PFAS has focused on PFOA and PFOS, this suit targets the entire class of PFAS chemicals, including “the newer ‘replacement’ chemicals, such as GenX.”

Rather than suing for cash penalties, the suit seeks to force the companies to create an independent panel of scientists “tasked with thoroughly studying and confirming the health effects that can be caused by contamination of human blood with multiple PFAS materials.” Such a panel would parallel the C8 Science Panel, which was created by the earlier class action litigation in West Virginia. That panel, overseen by epidemiologists approved by lawyers from both sides in the suit, found six diseases to be linked with PFOA exposure, including testicular cancer and kidney cancer.

“With multiple PFAS chemicals now contaminating the blood of people all over this country, it should be possible to build upon and expand the C8 Science Panel model to encompass a comprehensive, nationwide investigation of the impact of multiple PFAS chemicals,” Bilott said in a press release.

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“This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township,” Calley said in a statement, adding "This helps make sure that every resource that is possible is on the table and that we can work as expeditiously together as we possibly can." 

Two new analyses of drinking water data and the science used to analyze it make clear the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense have downplayed the public threat posed by perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Far more people have likely been exposed to dangerous levels of them than has previously been reported because contamination from them is more widespread than has ever been officially acknowledged. Moreover, ProPublica has found, the government’s understatement of the threat appears to be no accident.

Drinking water in Macomb County's New Baltimore and Mount Clemens has tested positive for contamination, according to notices issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality this week.  The contamination is related to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or PFCs, described as the MDEQ as "a suite of chemicals historically used in thousands of applications throughout the industrial, food, and textile industries."

Levels of a widely used class of industrial chemicals linked with cancer and other health problems — polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) — exceed federally recommended safety levels in public drinking water supplies for six million people in the U.S., according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The chemicals, which go by the longer names of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, are found in everything from pizza boxes to carpet treatments, reports the New York Times. “If you got a pastry with your coffee this morning, a PFAS substance probably even lined the waxy paper it was served on,” writes Lynne Peeples at the Huffington Post. (In the case of the pizza boxes, the chemicals help prevent the boxes from getting soaked by grease.)

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