3M Will Pay Up to $12.5 Billion to Resolve PFAS Water Contamination Claims

Chemical manufacturing giant 3M Company has entered into a proposed class-action settlement to resolve claims that toxic PFAS chemicals contaminated the water supply in many U.S. cities and communities. According to a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on June 22, 2023, 3M has agreed to pay between $10.5 billion and $12.5 billion in compensation for current and future complaints arising out of, relating to, or involving PFAS water contamination and the manufacture or use of PFAS or any PFAS-containing product, including firefighter foam. If you or someone you love developed cancer or another serious medical condition after being exposed to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or PFAS, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. We can connect you with an experienced attorney who can determine whether you may be eligible for compensation through a firefighter foam or PFAS water contamination claim. 

What is the Problem with PFAS in AFFF?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that are resistant to heat, grease, stains, oil, and water. The chemicals were developed in the early 1930s, and for decades, have been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products, most notably aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or firefighter foam. As a result, PFAS contamination has been uncovered mainly near commercial airports, military bases, and fire training facilities that used AFFF for fighting fires and running fire training drills. Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not break down naturally in the environment, and over time, they can accumulate in the human body. They can also move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources in areas where firefighter foam is used. In fact, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences caution that “AFFF is one of the largest sources of PFAS contamination in drinking water.”

Lawsuits Against 3M for PFAS Contamination and Exposure

A former manufacturer of PFAS-containing firefighting foams, 3M now faces a growing number of claims revolving around water supplies being contaminated by runoff from AFFF used during firefighter training and fire response activities. Under this proposed settlement, 3M will pay at least $10.5 billion over 12 years to remediate PFAS in drinking water supplies nationwide “by providing funding for treatment technologies to [public water system] PWS that have tested positive for PFAS, funding for future testing, and funding for systems that test positive in the future.” The PFAS water contamination settlement comes after 3M has been hit with hundreds of lawsuits claiming that the company’s PFAS-containing firefighting foam contaminated drinking water supplies all over the country. If the deal is approved by the court, it will resolve a portion of the PFAS-related multidistrict litigation (MDL) that involves public water system drinking water claims in the U.S. 3M also recently announced that it will stop all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

Exposure to some PFAS, like PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanoic sulfonic acid), has been linked to a host of serious health problems, including certain cancers, liver and kidney disease, immune suppression, reproductive issues, and hormonal disruptions. Sadly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 97% of the U.S. population has PFAS in their blood. And while many U.S. companies have agreed to phase out production of PFOA and PFOS due to their high level of toxicity, “imported products, products entering the waste stream, and PFAS previously released into our environment still expose us to the toxic chemicals,” warns Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. Furthermore, many of these manufacturers are simply replacing older PFAS with other chemicals in the same family, which can present similar risks to human health.

Find Out if You Qualify for a Legal Settlement

While the settlement announcement from 3M comes as welcome news to the cities and communities dealing with PFAS water contamination, industry experts doubt that $10.5 to $12.5 billion will even scratch the surface of PFAS remediation. “Looking at the scope of the problem across the nation, $10 billion isn’t really going to be sufficient enough to cover what our public water systems are facing,” said Jennifer Pederson, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association. “I think we’re looking at billions in Massachusetts alone.” If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer or another serious health condition and you believe PFAS exposure from contaminated drinking water to be the cause, do not hesitate to speak to a knowledgeable PFAS cancer attorney about your legal options. You may be able to file a legal claim and hold the responsible company or companies liable for the harm they have caused.

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