Exposure to PFAS Chemicals During Pregnancy Caused Birth Defects, Lawsuit Claims

A New Jersey woman alleges in a new lawsuit that exposure to the same toxic chemicals used in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) caused her to be born with birth defects, paralysis, and other chronic health problems. If you or someone you know has suffered adverse health effects believed to be related to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in firefighter foam or in contaminated drinking water supplies, contact us today to find out how we can help. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the chemical manufacturing company, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a class of man-made chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. PFAS have been used in the manufacturing industry since the 1940s and are highly valued because of their ability to resist heat, water, stains, and grease. In addition to being found in firefighter foams used by firefighters and the military to suppress flammable liquid fires, PFAS are also used in a number of consumer products, such as pizza boxes, fast food containers, nonstick cookware, cleaning products, water resistant clothing, and stain resistant coatings on carpets and other fabrics. These chemicals have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly impossible to avoid. Unfortunately, PFAS are also nearly indestructible, and their persistence in the environment and the human body has earned them the name “forever chemicals.”

Lawsuits Alleging Harmful Exposure to PFAS

The main problem with the widespread use of PFAS is that the chemicals have been linked to a myriad of serious health problems, including liver damage, high cholesterol, obesity, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, hormone suppression, and even cancer. Among those at greatest risk for experiencing the potential adverse health effects of PFAS exposure are firefighters who have been exposed to PFAS through their use of AFFF during training and response exercises. 3M, Du Pont de Nemours & Company, and other chemical manufacturers currently face a growing number of firefighter foam lawsuits brought by former firefighters diagnosed with bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, or pancreatic cancer after being directly exposed to PFAS in firefighter foam, and other plaintiffs exposed to PFAS in their drinking water.

This latest PFAS exposure lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Shirley Bond in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on May 13. According to the claim, Bond was born and raised in Pedricktown, New Jersey, near the West Deptford manufacturing facility, which has been owned by chemical companies Solvay Specialty Polymers and Arkema, Inc. over the years. Also located close to Bond’s birthplace is the Chemours Chambers Works chemical plant in Salem County, where it was revealed last fall that groundwater contamination with PFAS chemicals far exceeded safety limits recently set by New Jersey regulators. Bond alleges in her lawsuit that she was exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals in utero and throughout her childhood as a result of spills and releases from these chemical manufacturing facilities, which caused her to suffer from “profound and permanent personal injuries.”

Groundwater Contamination with PFAS Chemicals

Although claims involving the potential health risks of PFAS chemicals have largely centered on firefighters who were exposed to PFAS-containing firefighter foam products on the job, there have been growing concerns recently about the potential for the toxic chemicals to be released into the soil, air and water and contaminate drinking water supplies in communities near PFAS manufacturing facilities or other areas where PFAS-containing AFFFs were used, such as military bases and commercial airports. For instance, data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that samples taken at the Chemours Chambers Works chemical plant in Salem County, New Jersey between July and December 2019 contained PFOA at levels more than 22,000 times the limit set by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as safe for human consumption for public drinking water supplies, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at levels more than 9,000 the limit, and PFOS at more than seven times the limit.

In her lawsuit, Bond alleges that exposure to PFAS chemicals and other toxic substances released from these chemical plants, including halogenated hydrocarbons, freons, industrial solvents, and heavy metals like mercury and lead, led to her development of congenital heart defects, a brachial plexus birth defect and associated paralysis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, and cervical myofascial pain syndrome, among other injuries. As a result of these injuries, Bond reportedly suffers from lifelong depression and anxiety, profound pain and suffering and mental anguish, and loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures, among other losses. Bond seeks to recover damages from Solvay, Arkema, the Chemours Company, Du Pont, and other defendants for her injuries, which she alleges were “foreseeably caused by Defendants’ misconduct, including their intentional manufacturing, use, discharge, and/or disposal of toxic and dangerous chemicals and substances.”