PFAS Lawsuits: Water Contamination Crisis

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Mass Tort

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By consuming PFAS-contaminated water or using consumer products that contain PFAS, we are all exposed to a certain quantity of PFAS in our lives.

Besides drinking water, the CDC reports minimal exposure to PFAS in our environment and consumer goods. The blog discusses PFAS lawsuits and regulations, PFAS symptoms, the current status of PFAS lawsuits, and PFAS toxicity and persistence.

What is PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of dangerous artificial chemicals utilized in the United States since the 1940s and are present in a wide range of consumer goods in addition to our land, air, and water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that there is proof that PFAS can have harmful impacts on health. The substance is also known as a “forever chemical” because it does not degrade and can accumulate in human bodies over time.

The environment is contaminated by thousands of industrial and consumer products created with “forever” chemicals, including firefighting foam, Teflon, leather goods and apparel, and the paper used to wrap fast food.

Here you can see the PFAS structure:


Why is PFAS Hazardous?

Every day, we may come into contact with the harmful chemical PFAS from using several common household products and drinking water and food.

How do PFAS get into drinking water?

Due to its water solubility, PFAS can easily leak from contaminated areas like landfills and military bases, contaminating our soil and drinking water supply. According to recent data, there are already 1,582 unique locations in 49 states that have been determined to be PFAS-polluted in some way, including military posts and public water sources.

According to the CDC, there is growing evidence that PFAS exposure harms people by affecting their hormones and the immune system and contributing to some malignancies.

Adverse health effects from exposure to PFAS chemicals include:

  • Abnormal thyroid hormone levels
  • Cancer
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Liver inflammation
  • Low infant birth weight
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Weakening of the immune system

Which cancers have PFAS chemicals been linked to?

PFAS exposure symptoms has been associated with liver, pancreatic, testicular, prostate, breast, bladder, thyroid, and kidney cancers.

What Impact Does PFAS Have on Your Body?

Our bodies can be affected by PFAS in a variety of ways. PFAS can stay in our bodies for an extended period after first touching us and is especially dangerous when consumed. This is why the health effects of this particular group of hazardous substances are so grave.

All of the potential negative impacts that these hazardous compounds may have on our systems still require further study. The CDC claims that PFAS can alter how the liver, thyroid, pancreas, and hormone levels operate in animal experiments.

PFAS may affect human bodies similarly to how animals do, despite the possibility that animals and humans metabolize harmful substances differently. According to the CDC, human exposure to PFAS may affect hormones and interfere with several bodily processes. The chemical may potentially cause human cancer.

Because it’s frequently an ingredient in the flame retardants that firefighters use in large quantities, the natural spread of PFAS is commonly caused by waste-water dumping by companies that use the chemical. The pollutants contaminate our groundwater, and the worry about contamination has increased.

Which Products Contain PFAS?

The dangerous chemical PFAS is present in many everyday home products. The chemical is present in products we use for food preparation and cooking. For instance, it contains non-stick cookware and food packaging like pizza boxes and confectionery wrappers.

Any stain-resistant finishes on the carpet, furniture, and other materials could contain PFAS. The hazardous substance may also be present in paints, varnishes, and sealants.

PFAS can also be found in cosmetics and other personal care items. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep Database, the chemical was found in several things, including sunscreen, shaving cream, shampoo, and make-up.

Although some PFAS manufacturers in the US have now been phased out, many items still have the potential to contain this hazardous substance, and others like it. Research on how PFAS exposure from consumer products affects our health is lacking.

Water Contamination and Military Bases

Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a type of firefighting foam, has been used for years in military facilities to put out flames during training drills. AFFF is a specialized substance containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of toxic compounds used to terminate fires that are started by petroleum and other flammable liquids.

According to reports, after training scenarios, when the foam is washed away, it will creep into the ground and neighboring streams, contaminating the tap water that residents and locals use for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and other purposes.

According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, the Department of Defense (DoD) has identified 12 military bases with hazardous levels of PFAS water contamination. The DoD knows almost 700 bases are contaminated with PFAS; however, these 12 bases have the greatest amounts of PFAS contamination.

Locations of PFAS water contamination

All around the United States, PFAS water contamination has been found. Two thousand eight hundred fifty-four places in the US had been identified as PFAS water pollution sites as of October 2021. PFAS contamination has been discovered in several municipal water supply systems and groundwater sources.

Groundwater in 38 states and municipal water systems in 33 states have been affected by PFAS. A total of 16 million people are thought to have consumed water tainted with PFAS.

The most frequent places for PFAS water pollution are close to industrial areas, military posts, and airports. Firefighting foam has been utilized in training drills at US military sites and commercial airports for many years. Eventually, this foam entered the water system.

PFAS water pollution was found at 600 military facilities and their surroundings, according to a Department of Defense analysis from 2020.

How Can PFAS Be Removed from Water?

Filtration may be used to eliminate PFAS from drinking water. The Department of Environment suggests eliminating PFAS from drinking water using reverse osmosis filters and granular activated carbon filters.

Both filters can lower the concentrations of PFAS and other pollutants in drinking water, making it more wholesome for ingestion.

While non-certified filters may also reduce the amount of PFAS in water, it is crucial to pick one that has passed independent testing and complies with NSF Standard P473 to ensure it works well. Information concerning certifications is often included on the packaging of the filters.

Numerous types of water filters are available; however, they have yet to be demonstrated to be very successful in lowering the quantities of PFAS in drinking water.

PFAS can be successfully reduced and almost completely removed from drinking water by certain water filters. However, there is presently no water filter on the market that can thoroughly remove PFAS from drinking water.

PFAS Lawsuit Against 3M and Dupont Relating to Contaminated Water

A farmer in West Virginia sued DuPont in 1999 in the first lawsuit regarding PFAS contamination (more precisely, PFOA). Since then, exposure to PFAS compounds has become a severe concern for public health and the environment and has been the subject of twenty years of legal action brought by states, territories, water providers, and private citizens.

Another PFAS lawsuit was filed against DuPont, 3M, Chemours, and Corteva for “forever” chemicals found in groundwater.

The water districts say that DuPont de Nemours Inc., 3M Co., Chemours Co., and Corteva Inc. knew or should have known that the “harmful substances” they produced would reach groundwater, contaminate drinking water sources, and endanger public health.

According to the plaintiffs, the districts and millions of residents of Orange County are currently coping with “widespread contamination” due to the firm’s alleged failure to safeguard the area’s water supply.

The water districts make several accusations, including failure to warn, negligence, design flaws, and public and private annoyance. In addition to injunctive relief, specified damages, attorney fees, and court expenses are all requested.

DuPont, 3M, and other companies that produced firefighting foams used in military base training exercises are being sued. It’s because they neglected to take the necessary precautions to protect the general public despite knowing that their products contained PFAS chemicals that could contaminate nearby groundwater and have serious adverse PFAS health effects.

PFAS contamination-related damages have already been paid by DuPont, Chemours, Corteva, and 3M for a combined amount of over $11.5 billion. However, that amount might increase significantly and potentially top the more than $200 billion that Big Tobacco paid in the 1990s.

Firefighting foams are believed or proven to have contaminated the water at more than 700 military locations.

The Escalating Number of PFAS Lawsuits

A rising number of PFAS lawsuits have been brought against the producers of PFAS-containing items during the past few years. Local governments have brought these PFAS lawsuits, claiming their water systems were polluted. Individuals have also filed them, claiming that drinking contaminated water caused them to acquire cancer or other illnesses.

In these PFAS lawsuits, the defendants include several sizable chemical producers and industrial companies. 3M & Co. and DuPont are two of the most well-known companies identified as principal defendants.

From 1970 through 2012, 3M produced and sold AFFF firefighting foam that contained PFAS. PFAS have been produced by DuPont and its corporate spin-offs since the 1940s and sold to other companies, including 3M.

It is well known that PFAS contamination is a widespread issue because similar instances of illegal pollution are reported all around the nation.

On September 20, 2022, a consumer PFAS class action lawsuit was filed against McDonald’s earlier this year because the famous fast-food chain has been selling food in packaging containing dangerous chemicals known as PFAS.

This PFAS litigation claimed that McDonald’s had misrepresented to customers that the food packaging for its products was secure, eco-friendly, and non-toxic. It was filed in the Northern District of Illinois.

Throughout the summer, McDonald’s filed a request to dismiss, contesting the plaintiff’s claims and his authority to speak for the proposed class of consumers. The plaintiffs submitted a response in opposition last week, and a hearing should be scheduled for November.

People should be alarmed by PFAS chemicals, and you can follow the below steps to avoid them.

Who Can File a PFAS Lawsuit?

You may be eligible to start or join a PFAS class-action lawsuit if your exposure to PFAS is to blame for your illnesses and unfavorable health conditions.

The severe health impacts of PFAS exposure include malignancies, low birth weights, thyroid disorders, neurological issues, and many other possible ailments. PFAS manufacturers are currently the target of hundreds of PFAS lawsuits.

For the attorneys to comprehend the medical idea of the damage and prepare for the trial, medical record reviews should be precise and comprehensive enough.

Suppose you or a loved one is experiencing adverse health impacts from exposure to PFAS. In that case, you can file a PFAS exposure lawsuit and get PFAS lawsuit settlement amounts for your losses.

Several parties may be accountable and liable for PFAS exposure, and these cases can be complex and drawn out. Your legal options can be better assessed, and any claims you may have can be pursued if you speak with a PFAS attorney.

What Rights Do I Have in the PFAS Lawsuits?

If your claim is successful, you might be eligible to get paid for the following:

  • Past and future medical costs, including those for prescription drugs, medical care, surgeries, and doctor visits
  • Lost wages and diminished earning potential
  • Bodily discomfort and suffering
  • Impairment and incapacity
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Reduction in marital benefits
  • Emotional distress
  • Funeral costs

To wrap up,

Negligence is just one reason you may have legal rights to file PFAS lawsuits. We can only hope that this action advances the cause of clean tap water for the entire country. Everybody needs access to clean drinking water; thus, manufacturers and businesses that contribute to contamination must uphold a higher safety standard.

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