On Wednesday, July 26th, a coalition comprising 22 states and U.S. territories took action to block a proposed $10.3 billion settlement with 3M Co, aimed at resolving claims related to water pollution caused by “forever chemicals.” The group, led by California and including Texas, New York, and the District of Columbia, filed a motion in a South Carolina federal court where numerous lawsuits against 3M and other companies over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ongoing.
The settlement in question sought to allocate funds over a 13-year period to cities, towns, and public water systems for testing and treating PFAS contamination. However, the states argue that the proposed deal falls short of holding the company adequately accountable. They assert that the compensation offered is insufficient to address the extensive damage caused by these chemicals. PFAS substances are widely used in various products such as firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, and cosmetics, but they have been linked to health issues like cancers, hormonal dysfunction, and environmental harm.
What Is PFAS?
PFAS is a group of controversial chemicals that have faced intense scrutiny due to their association with an increased risk of cancer and their long-lasting, persistent nature, posing significant environmental and public health concerns. Since the 1950s, PFAS has been utilized in various applications due to its waterproof and durable characteristics. These chemicals are found in a wide range of products, including solvents, food packaging, clothing, and furniture.
PFAS are manmade fluoropolymers known for their resistance to heat, oil, grease, and water. While their properties are advantageous in many situations, their “forever chemical” nature means they take an extremely long time to break down in the environment. As a result, PFAS can leach into soil, contaminate water sources, and accumulate in the bodies of wildlife and people exposed to or consuming toxic water.
The ease with which these chemicals can enter food and water supplies makes them highly hazardous. Over time, PFAS can accumulate in the human body, leading to significant damage affecting organ functions and increasing the risk of cancer.
PFAS in AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam)
AFFF (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) can be harmful to individuals who come into contact with it and is currently in the process of being phased out due to the danger it poses. AFFF manufacturers use per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to give AFFF its characteristic foamy properties and trademark film that effectively suppresses fires.
The two most common forms of PFAS found in firefighting foam are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Both substances have been associated with an increased risk of cancer and are considered toxic. Although some companies have pledged to phase out the use of PFOS and PFOA, these chemicals are still in use to some extent. Moreover, even after their current use ends, the legacy of old PFOA and PFOS in the environment will persist for an extended period.
Firefighters are the primary group at risk of harmful AFFF exposure, but other individuals may also encounter AFFF in sufficient amounts and frequency to face serious health hazards. Military personnel are particularly vulnerable to AFFF exposure, given its common use in military settings, such as airfields and ships, to combat fuel fires. Similarly, airport personnel are at risk due to the historical use of firefighting foam in many airports.
AFFF Exposure Injuries
AFFF containing PFAS has been found to have carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting qualities that can contribute to a risk of severe health issues. Incidental and isolated cases of AFFF exposure are unlikely to cause severe health issues although some risk still exists. Most cases of health issues related to AFFF exposure involve long-term exposure. The most common health issues associated with AFFF exposure include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer (colon and/or rectal cancer)
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Renal or kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Thyroid cancer and disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Uterine or endometrial cancer
- Thyroid Disease
- Liver Damage
- Developmental Disorders
Individuals suffering from these medical conditions may face substantial medical costs, long-term care requirements, and significant lifestyle changes. A specialized AFFF lawsuit attorney can guide individuals in bringing legal claims to recover expenses and losses after being diagnosed with AFFF-related cancer. If you suspect that your medical issues are linked to AFFF exposure, it is crucial to promptly contact an experienced AFFF lawyer to explore your rights to compensation.
Water Contamination and AFFF Lawsuits
As a consequence of AFFF exposure, firefighters, emergency responders, and military personnel have been diagnosed with various cancers and illnesses, prompting them to pursue legal action to seek compensation for the damages they have endured.
Numerous product liability lawsuits have been filed against 25 different companies, including DuPont, 3M, Tyco, and Chemguard, which manufacture and sell AFFF products. The substantial volume of federal lawsuits led to the establishment of a multidistrict litigation (MDL-2873) in South Carolina, presided over by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel. This MDL consolidates the multitude of claims to streamline pretrial proceedings nationwide, ensuring greater efficiency and consistency. Additionally, it facilitates the coordination of plaintiffs’ attorneys and judicial rulings.
Filing a PFAS Lawsuit
Individuals affected by AFFF exposure typically endure significant hardships, encompassing financial burdens, physical ailments, and even emotional distress. The financial losses resulting from AFFF exposure are considered legal damages in product liability lawsuits. The overarching objective of product liability mass tort claims is to fully compensate injured plaintiffs by securing adequate restitution from the responsible parties accountable for inflicting the damages suffered by the plaintiffs.
Hiring a seasoned product liability injury lawyer can significantly enhance your chances of building a successful AFFF claim, ultimately securing the financial compensation necessary to pave the way for your future. In the absence of a proficient AFFF lawyer’s guidance, you might encounter persistent financial challenges and enduring stress as you attempt to navigate your situation unaided.
When you have a PFAS lawyer by your side, they will guide you through the entire process of completing and submitting the required documentation. Additionally, they will assess the damages you can claim and calculate their maximum value. Employing their vast expertise and adept negotiation skills, they will strive to secure the most favorable settlement, ensuring comprehensive coverage for all your damages. Should a settlement not be achievable, a capable litigator will be prepared to take your case to trial and ardently advocate for your rights.
Contact a PFAS Attorney Near YouIf you have suffered injuries due to AFFF exposure, it is crucial to reach out to a personal injury lawyer with experience in AFFF lawsuits at the earliest opportunity. Collaborating with a proficient personal injury attorney promptly will enable you to gather essential evidence, effectively prepare your case, and build a strong and solid legal claim.