(Photo: Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)
Nov 10, 2022
The state of California on Thursday sued 18 manufacturers of "forever chemicals" for harming people and the planet, and engaging in widespread deception.
"We won't let them off the hook for the pernicious damage done to our state."
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals that persist in the human body and environment for long periods. They have been used in everything from water-resistant clothing and furniture to cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foam.
Forever chemicals have been found in drinking water, soil, wildlife, and people across the country, and they have been linked to various health problems, including multiple types of cancer, childhood obesity, and damage to immune and reproductive systems.
"PFAS are as ubiquitous in California as they are harmful," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "As a result of a decadeslong campaign of deception, PFAS are in our waters, our clothing, our houses, and even our bodies."
The Democrat declared that "the damage caused by 3M, DuPont, and other manufacturers of PFAS is nothing short of staggering, and without drastic action, California will be dealing with the harms of these toxic chemicals for generations."
"Today's lawsuit is the result of a yearslong investigation that found that the manufacturers of PFAS knowingly violated state consumer protection and environmental laws," he added. "We won't let them off the hook for the pernicious damage done to our state."
\u201cPFAS are as ubiquitous in CA as they are harmful. \n \nWe\u2019re suing for damages and demanding action to minimize the impacts to human health and the environment.\n \nCADOJ won\u2019t sit back as our people and environment continue to be hurt.\u201d— Rob Bonta (@Rob Bonta) 1668109294
Filed in the Alameda County Superior Court, the complaint states that the "defendants created and/or contributed to a public nuisance, harmed and destroyed natural resources, marketed defective products, failed to provide adequate warnings concerning the use of their products, and engaged in unlawful business practices."
The suit is seeking preliminary and permanent equitable relief, damages, statutory penalties, and restitution as well as associated attorneys' fees, expert costs, and litigation costs.
3M spokesperson Carolyn LaViolette toldReuters that the company "acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS and will defend its record of environmental stewardship."
While DuPont didn't respond to the news agency's request for comment, The Wall Street Journalnoted that a statement on its website "says the company's present use of PFAS is limited, that it has systems, processes, and protocols in place to ensure the chemicals are used safely, and that it is actively pursuing research into alternatives."
The suit in California comes as the Biden administration and lawmakers face calls for federal legislation focused on not only limiting or ending the use of PFAS but also addressing the health impacts and environmental pollution resulting from widespread use of forever chemicals.
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