Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a collection of fluorinated chemicals used in different types of industrial and consumer products. Regulation of these substances is inconsistent, and PFAS contamination may be even more widespread than we realize. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report alleging that major companies have known about the damaging effects of PFAS chemicals for decades and kept the information to themselves.
The EWG report uses internal documents from 3M and DuPont to create a timeline for their discoveries of the dangers of PFAS chemicals. As early as the 1950s, these documents show that the companies knew of the potential for PFAS to build up in the bloodstream. In the 1980s, they discovered a link between PFAS and cancer, as well as high rates of cancer among their own employees. It was not until 1998, however, that the companies alerted federal and state agencies to the dangers of PFAS, and regulators have been slow to catch up on managing the risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cracked down on two of the most common PFAS contaminants: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), but there are many more chemicals that fall into this category. PFAS have not been classified as hazardous substances, so companies can continue releasing them into the air and water with impunity. An estimated 500 industrial sites across the country are releasing toxic PFAS chemicals, and there are currently no regulations requiring them to stop these activities. Firefighting foams continue to be manufactured with PFAS, which can contaminate water supplies when it runs off.
More than 700 communities in 49 states have documented PFAS contamination issues, and experts believe there may be many more. According to unreleased federal documents, approximately 110 million people in the U.S. have contaminated drinking water, and water utilities are not required to test or treat water for PFAS. Food supplies are also affected by PFAS.
DuPont has faced public criticism over its use of PFAS, particularly when it was revealed that Teflon contained PFAS. Chemours, a subsidiary that took over all their activities involving PFAS, sued DuPont alleging that the corporation did not notify them of the dangers associated with PFAS. DuPont has stopped using PFOA, PFOS, and another PFAS chemical called GenX, and they have pledged to stop using other long-chain PFAS by the end of 2019. They have also committed to support remediation efforts, including sharing their proprietary water treatment technologies.
PFAS contamination can be toxic to internal organs and lead to cancer development. If you have suffered from injury or illness linked to PFAS chemicals, call the Delaware environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Our legal team has the knowledge and experience to hold those responsible for your suffering accountable for their negligence. With offices conveniently located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we help victims of toxic exposure throughout the state, including Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online for a free consultation.