MASSPIRG Statement: AG sues manufacturers of PFAS-containing fire fighting foam

Media Contacts
Susan Kaplan

Former Media Relations Manager

BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today sued manufacturers of poly- and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) “forever” chemicals used in firefighting foam for causing millions of dollars in damages to communities across Massachusetts by knowingly contaminating drinking water sources, groundwater, and other natural resources with highly toxic PFAS chemicals that pose a serious threat to public health and the environment.

The AG’s complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, alleges the manufacturers repeatedly violated state and federal laws protecting drinking water and prohibiting consumer deception by marketing, manufacturing, and selling PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to government entities, counties, municipalities, local fire departments, businesses and residents in Massachusetts while knowing of the serious dangers the chemicals posed.

The 15 manufacturers named in the lawsuit—part of multidistrict litigation that consists of hundreds of lawsuits brought by state attorneys general, municipalities, and private and public water districts—are 3M Company; AGC Chemical Americas, Inc; Archroma U.S. Inc.; Arkema, Inc.; Buckeye Fire Equipment; Chemguard Inc; Clarinet Corporation; Dynax Corporation; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Kidde-Fenwal Inc.; National Foam Inc; The Chemours Company; Tyco Fire Products LP; Corteva Inc.; and DuPont de Nemours Inc.

The lawsuit seeks costs to clean up and remove, restore, treat, and monitor PFAS contamination and an order requiring the manufacturers to reimburse the state for the damages its products caused. The complaint also demands that the manufacturers remediate and restore the state’s natural resources and pay investigation fees and costs.

In response to the attorney general’s announcement, MASSPIRG Legislative Director Deirdre Cummings released the following statement: 

“Holding companies accountable for any damage their product causes is a bedrock principle of fairness, accountability and restitution in our country. MASSPIRG praises the action today of Attorney General Maura Healey in suing the manufacturers of a type of firefighting foam called Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which is designed to extinguish certain fires and has been used for decades by firefighters and the military despite concerns about its safety. The use of AFFF is concerning because it is known to contain dangerous chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been linked with cancer. 

PFAS contamination is especially pernicious as these chemicals accumulate and do not break down in our bodies or the environment, earning them the moniker ‘forever chemicals.’  Exposure to PFAS through AFFF poses a health threat to firefighters and others using it, and also to the wider community when it is washed away from the site of a fire or a training area and leaches into the environment, contaminating soil and water including our drinking water. In fact, 124 public water systems in 81 cities and towns from the Cape to the Berkshires have all exceeded PFAS contamination advisory levels, not to mention the countless private wells that have also been affected. This action today will protect our health by holding the polluters accountable and leveraging the resources necessary to clean up the pollution.”