Maryland Attorney General Files Lawsuits Against Manufacturers Using PFAS In Products
MARYLAND - The Office of the Attorney General of Maryland has filed two legal actions against several manufacturers that incorporate PFAS, or "forever chemicals," in consumer products and firefighting foam. These suits, filed in the Baltimore City Circuit Court, claim that corporations, including 3M and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, sold products with PFAS for years, despite knowing their risks.
The legal proceedings argue that the companies should bear the cost of examining and mitigating PFAS contamination in Maryland, which has affected groundwater, water bodies, and soil. One lawsuit specifically targets firefighting foams sold in Maryland, while the other targets other PFAS-containing products, ranging from nonstick cookware to upholstery.
According to a statement by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown, "These corporations must pay to clean up the damage and be held accountable for the harms they have caused." He added that access to safe drinking water and a clean environment are non-negotiable. The lawsuits outline several allegations against the companies, including defective design, negligence, failure to warn, public nuisance, and trespassing.
PFAS are a class of human-made chemicals known for their heat-resistant and water-resistant properties. Due to their strong chemical bonds, PFAS persist in the environment, accumulating in water, soil, and living organisms.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued health advisories regarding certain types of PFAS in drinking water, which are linked to health risks like kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
Maryland's lawsuits allege that companies like 3M and E.I. du Pont have been aware of the harmful effects of these chemicals on humans and the environment since the 1950s. Despite accumulating evidence of these dangers, the corporations did not disclose this information to the public, maintaining the safety of their products instead.
A statement from 3M spokesperson Grant Thompson stated that the company "acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS — including AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) — and will vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship."
The lawsuit names military bases as significantly contaminated by PFAS. The list of impacted military bases includes Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St. Mary's County, and the Naval Research Lab, Chesapeake Bay Detachment in Calvert County.
Additionally, in 2021, Maryland issued its first-ever fish consumption advisory due to PFAS contamination. Several species in Potomac River tributaries were deemed too contaminated for eating.
Maryland lawmakers have prohibited manufacturing and selling food packaging, carpet, and firefighting foams containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals, a ban that will start in 2024.
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